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OOPS! NOT! Origin of The Twelve Days of Christmas--this is news to me!

Monday, December 09, 2013

Correction!!! See one of the comments to my blog. Apparently this is an urban legend. I went to the website suggested in the comment and it was explained at length. Sorry about that! Chris emoticon

The History of the Christmas Carol

What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially that partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not allowed 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, and 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.
Eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
Twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.
So there is your history lesson for today and now you know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol!

Submitted by Tom, Gettysburg, Pa.

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
PROVERBS31JULIA 12/12/2013 7:59PM

    KInda moot anyway, since most of the "Christmas Traditions" predate the birth of Christ, meaning they came from pagan observances from thousands of years before (which is also something that the Snopes article seemingly missed in the article referenced earlier in comments, but they do touch on in this other article:

Birthday of Jesus

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LAURANCE 12/11/2013 7:38AM

  I check Snopes for things like this. But still people like the song, and that's good enough.

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NANCYPAT1 12/10/2013 10:32AM

    There are other similar histories for many nursery rhymes, a deck of cards, the candy cane, and pretzels - each has a hidden underlying meaning that has almost been lost over time. The nursery rhymes are mostly political commentary that was couched in children's rhymes. Political and religious symbolism have often been hidden because of the danger of expressing views not accepted by those in power.

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    Wow! Now it makes sense. Thanks

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SETTIMIA 12/10/2013 7:04AM

    thank you interesting

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COCK-ROBIN 12/10/2013 12:11AM

    Very interesting!

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DEE107 12/10/2013 12:08AM

    thank you

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DJ4HEALTH 12/9/2013 9:44PM

    Thanks for the info about it.

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ARTJAC 12/9/2013 9:37PM


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EVWINGS 12/9/2013 8:48PM

    It is a lovely story, even if it is an urban legend. Thank you for sharing it.

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SANDRALEET 12/9/2013 8:05PM

    Some love long stores

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FROSTY99 12/9/2013 7:34PM

    THX for sharing this info.

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TAMMYAND 12/9/2013 7:05PM

    I have heard something along these lines before, but had no real memory of the meanings. Thanks for posting this. I appreciate the timeliness at this beautiful Christmas season. God bless!

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2HAMSDIET 12/9/2013 6:23PM

    emoticon emoticon

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BARB4HEALTH 12/9/2013 6:22PM

    It was good to be reminded of this. Thanks!

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LINOVER 12/9/2013 6:18PM

    I love trivia like this! Thanks for sharing!

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WALLAHALLA 12/9/2013 4:10PM

I need to share this with my students.

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CHANGE4FIT 12/9/2013 4:09PM

    Yes, I have heard of this. Lots of interesting "back stories" to some of our favorite Christmas Carols.

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BOB5148 12/9/2013 3:44PM


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TRAVELNISTA 12/9/2013 3:37PM


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-POLEDANCEGIRL- 12/9/2013 3:34PM

    I never knew that. Very interesting

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DOLPHINLADY05 12/9/2013 3:27PM

    I knew this stuff but it's nice to have a refresher. I am a Catholic by infant baptism but was raised and still attend the Methodist church. Methodists also share this story behind the song. It may be a legend as noted above but sometimes when a true historian digs deeper they find out things aren't as off the mark as you might imagine. It's kind of like all the stories about how Halloween is a pagan celebration but if you read the works of some extremely knowledgeable historians who have done their homework above and beyond the call of duty, that just isn't the case at all!!

I think we get so caught up in all of these yuletide carols and forget that some of the composers to these songs actually had meaning in their words. Thanks for this great reminder!!

Hope you have a very blessed Christmas!!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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    Cool and TY for the lesson...... I plan to share! :)

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NOEL711 12/9/2013 2:23PM

    Hi Sweetie,

This is a lovely thought, but it's an urban legend.
I've heard this often the past few years, I think because of
social media, 'stories' are circulated much more often.
As a pastor, I hear stories like this often, so I check
my ultimate authority:

It being a story doesn't mean it doesn't have nice intentions,
but historically inaccurate. It's just a fun song...

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LUST4LIFE15 12/9/2013 1:40PM

    Wow...this is pretty interesting....

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IOEINC 12/9/2013 1:24PM

    Did not know that!! Always interesting to learn something new!

Thanks for sharing!!


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DENNISBISHOP 12/9/2013 1:08PM

    Thanks! That's interesting to know.

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