There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me – The Twelve Days of Christmas.
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What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won’t come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?
Then, I found out.
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.
This is your history lesson for today. This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and enlightening.
Now I know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol.
Have a Meaningful Yuletide Season! 🎄🙏
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in advance to everyone in the name of the LORD