Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
Jan Harris
Assistant Editor
8:00 AM 21st December 2020

The Twelve Days Of Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas are actually the twelve days between Christmas Day, 25th December, which is the birth of Jesus, and the Epiphany, 6th January, the day Christians celebrate the arrival of the Magi (Wise Men) and the revelation of Christ as the light of the world.

The song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” is an English Christmas carol which was written so that it could be sung in public without fear of arrest – it was in fact a learning or memory aid for Christians.

The Twelve days of Christmas had quite a serious purpose when it was written.

Each verse refers to a teaching of church doctrine — with the Partridge being Christ who died on a tree and the “True Love” being God the Father, who gave us all the gifts.

Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829, when Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England, were prohibited from ANY practice of their faith by law – private OR public. It was a crime to BE a Catholic.

But another theory is that the “secret” origins of the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is nothing more than a fanciful tale, similar to the many apocryphal “hidden meanings” of various nursery rhymes.

What the symbols mean:

The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 Turtle Doves = the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Love
4 Calling Birds = the four Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
5 Golden Rings = first five Books of Old Testament (history of man's fall from grace)
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed

So next time you hear the familiar words you will understand what they all mean.