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The story behind "The Twelve Days of Christmas"

Monday, December 17, 2012

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

-Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.-

-The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

-The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

-The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

-The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

-The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

-The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

-The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
PAMNANGEL 1/31/2013 11:58AM

    Wow! Did not know that!

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DADDYS_GIRL6 1/31/2013 11:30AM

    Thanks for sharing!

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ELSCO55 1/10/2013 6:48PM

    Thank you. I had seen this before but had forgotten.

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GRNDMOM43 12/30/2012 6:34PM

    emoticon emoticon for sharing this little bit of history!

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MICHELE142 12/18/2012 1:59PM


Brought back the story my Scots-Irish grandfather would tell on Christmas Eve.
Great to see it once again.


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GARDENSFORLIFE 12/17/2012 6:18PM

    emoticon emoticon

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1CRAZYDOG 12/17/2012 5:39PM

    Interesting! Thank you

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