12 Days of Christmas

Are Christmas carols ringing in your house?  Many carols have obvious religious and faith-filled messages painting images of that holy night in Bethlehem.  Some are more contemporary with wishes for snow, Santa, and fond memories.  Others seem a bit silly, but have still incorporated themselves into our traditions just the same.  One example of this is the 12 Days of Christmas.  Have you ever wondered if they are talking about ornaments on the tree, presents below the tree, or just silly nonsense? 

Actually, the 12 Days of Christmas was written by Jesuit priests in the 16th century to help people learn the teachings of the church.  During this time, the Catholic Church and their faithful were under persecution by the King of England.  Priests and lay people alike faced death as they strove to practice their faith.  The messages of faith were hidden in the carol so the persecutors were not aware of the catechism going on.  I hope that this explanation will bring more meaning to this age-old Christmas carol. 

And it hopefully, it will help you celebrate the Christmas season because we are actually in the midst of the twelve days of Christmas since they fall between Christmas Day and the Feast of the Epiphany.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me – God gave to me

Twelve pipers piping – 12 beliefs of the Catholic Church from the Apostle’s Creed12 Days of Christmas

Eleven lords a-leaping – 11 faithful disciples

Ten ladies dancing – 10 commandments given to us by God

Nine drummers drumming – 9 choirs of angels

Eight maids a-milking – 8 beatitudes

Seven swans a swimming – 7 sacraments of the Church

Six geese a-laying – 6 days of creation

Five golden rings – first 5 books of the Bible – considered the Torah

Four calling birds – 4 Gospels

Three French hens – mystery of the Trinity – 3 persons in one God

Two turtledoves – the two natures of Christ – fully divine and fully human

A partridge in a pear tree – Christ is the partridge and the pear tree is the cross.


Now you can sing Christmas carols and teach your children at the same time!


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