Until a few days ago, I had never considered The 12 Days of Christmas anything more than an annoying song or the back drop for the latest Hallmark movie. Every year someone determines what all of the gifts would cost if you were so inclined to do so; for 2019 the estimate was $38,993.59
But the true meaning of the song is not materialistic at all. Each day has a much deeper meaning. Most believe that the song is about the 12 days leading up to Christmas when in fact it is the 12 days from Christmas to Ephiphany. The story goes that it was “original a poem written by Catholic clerics, this song was transformed into a carol at a time when celebrating the twelve days of Christmas was one of the most important holiday customs. By understanding the meaning the clerics chose the twelve days as wrapping for their poem, the full impact of the tradition of the twelve days of Christmas can be understood.”
So let’s dig in…
- The Partridge in the Pear Tree is Jesus Christ.
- The 2 Turtle Doves are The Old and New Testaments.
- The 3 French Hens are Faith, Hope, and Charity, the theological virtues.
- The 4 Calling Birds are the four gospels and/or the four evangelists.
- The 5 Golden Rings are the first five books of the Old Testament.
- The 6 Geese A-laying are the six days of creation.
- The 7 Swans A-swimming are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments.
- The 8 Maids A-milking are the eight beatitudes.
- The 9 Ladies Dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
- The 10 Lords A-leaping are the ten commandments.
- The 11 Pipers Piping are the eleven faithful apostles.
- The 12 Drummers Drumming are the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed.