The Real Story Behind the 12 Days of Christmas
Catholics in England were prohibited by law from practicing their faith, both in private and in public from 1558 to 1829. Being a Catholic was treated as a crime. There was no restored gospel at the time, however there were good Christians who knew without doubt the true church was not one that was mainly created merely for the convenience of King Henry the Eighth who wanted to sin and have a church justify his actions.
So in secret they continued to teach their children their Christian religion.
"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England during this time frame.
It was written to help children learn about their religion. The entire song is written in symbolism and hidden meanings because it was illegal to have anything in writing that would indicate adherence to the Catholic faith. To be caught could mean imprisonment, hanging, or being drawn and quartered.
Christmas referred to a twelve day period that starts with Christmas day. "The Twelve Days of Christmas" referred to a twelve day period that began Christmas day. While the world may have celebrated Christmas for about twelve hours, these Christians celebrated it for twelve days as a reminder that the gifts of God are with us for twelve months of the year. It also represented the idea that we should be thankful for the gifts of God and follow His teachings for all twelve months of the year and not just one day a year.
The song begins, "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me..." The "true love" represents God, as our greatest love should be for Him. The word worship means that which we love the most. The "me" who receives these presents is the Christian man or woman.
1. The "partridge in a pear tree" was Jesus Christ who died on a structure made from the wood of a tree. In ancient times a partridge was often used as mythological symbol of a divine, sacred king.
2. The "two turtle doves" were the Old and New Testaments - another gift from God. Doves symbol- ize peace and the Gospel contained in these scriptures, when practiced, brings peace.
3. The "three French hens" were faith, hope and love - the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (I Corinthians 13). The French hens can also represent God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.
4. The "four calling birds" were the four Gospels which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.
5. The "five golden rings" were the first five books of the Bible also called the "Books of Moses."
6. The "six geese a-laying" were the six days of creation.
7. The "seven swans a swimming" were "seven gifts of the Holy Spirit." (I Corinthians 12:8-11, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4:10-11) "For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to other divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues; But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will." (I Corinthians 12:8-11)
8. The "eight maids a milking" were the eight beatitudes.
9. The "nine ladies dancing" were nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness,
temperance: against such there is no law." (Galatians 5:22)
10. The "ten lords a-leaping" were the Ten Commandments.
11. The "eleven pipers piping" were the eleven faithful disciples.
12. The "twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of the Apostles' Creed.
Now when you hear or sing The 12 Days of Christmas, you'll know the meaning behind it.
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