12 Days of Christmas

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Sing along with me! “…On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me nine ladies a dancing…

You knew I was gonna do it eventually; Yep I started wondering about the song “The 12 Days of Christmas.” Just what was the reason for a partridge in a pear tree? It is a fun song to sing but I never understood how it works. I mean just who wants nine ladies dancing. Unless, I guess, you’re a choreographer. I do like the idea five golden rings. The bright shiny objects distract me every time.

I knew there had to be something more than my literal interpretation of the words. I admit I never looked it up. When I researched the number of days in the Christmas Season, the song popped up and I couldn’t resist. I had to find out. Guess what? There may be meaning behind the song.

Somewhere between the mid-1500s and 1780 the song came about. In 1780 it was printed in a children’s book “mirth without mischief” as a memorization game. Snopes discounts the hidden meaning as false and thoughtco calls this an urban myth.

However, some priests and laypeople state the song does have meaning dating back to the oppression of the Catholics in England in the 16th to 18th centuries. I’m in a mood to roll with the myth and the legend.

Since the beginning of time people have used symbols and secrets to worship in the way they believe. According to the sources each gift in the song means something for us to remember:

  • That partridge in a pear tree? Is Jesus Christ. God’s true love for us
  • What about two turtledoves? There is an Old and a New Testament
  • And three french hens? Think of faith, hope, and charity
  • Okay four calling birds? The four gospels, doesn’t Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John call you to the savior?
  • Five…Golden…Rings…(sung off-key): The Torah or the Law detailed in the first five books of the old testament
  • Six geese a-laying? Well there are six days of creation
  • Okay get this, Seven Swans a-swimming: Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit right back at you
  • Eight Maids a-milking: Think of the eight beatitudes
  • Back to the nine ladies dancing: There are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit
  • The ten lords a-leaping thing? There are ten commandments
  • Eleven pipers piping really? Eleven faithful disciples carried the good news to the world.
  • And at last twelve drummers drumming? symbolizes the twelve points of belief detailed in the Apostles Creed.

I would like to think, that in the past, the world was not as secular and cynical as ours. I like the idea of a mom taking a child’s game and putting meaning behind it. And what about everyday folks praising God in a secret song. Hopefully they had a knowing smile that they shared an inside joke with God.

I hope you smiled and maybe chuckled with me. Have some fun today!


2 thoughts on “12 Days of Christmas

  1. I did smile with this! Thanks so much for a little research as I never had any idea but I can see the point, we can take anyting and find a way to make it spiritual.


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