Twelve Days of Christmas
Almost everyone is familiar with the song without being aware of the symbolism and legends associated with each of the days.The 12 Days of Christmas which actually begin at sundown on Christmas day (December 25) and proceed evening/day until the morning of January 6 or Epiphany which marks the celebration of the arrival of the Three Kings with their gifts for the Christ Child in the Church Calendar. This is the official period of Christmastide.
By legend each of the 12 days has a liturgical meaning used to teach children, the illiterate, and those not allowed to practice their faith openly due to religious persecution.
A Partridge in a Pear Tree = Jesus is the Partridge in a pear tree because a partridge will lay down its life to protect its young and the tree on which he will be crucified.
Two Turtle Doves – Old and New Testaments
Three French Hens: (Faith, hope, and charity or the three gifts of the Wise Men: Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh)
Gold stood for kingship, and purity and incorruptibility. Frankincense was the foundation of holy incense, the medium through which prayer traveled. Myrrh was a medicinal balm to ease pain and suffering, said to foreshadow Christ’s pain and suffering on behalf of mankind.
Four Calling birds – The four calling birds are the four Evangelists – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John because they spread everywhere the good news of the Gospel
Five Golden Rings – The Pentateuch (first five books of the bible)
Six Geese A Laying – The six days of the creation of the world.
Seven Swans a Swimming – The Seven Sacraments
Eight Maids a Milking – The Eight Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount
Nine Ladies Dancing – The Nine Choirs of Angels
Ten Lords A Leaping – The Ten Commandments
Eleven Pipers Piping – The Eleven Faithful apostles
Twelve Drummers Drumming – The 12 points of the Apostles’ Creed
Now that you know them all: Sing Along