The Twelve Days of Christmas is a classic but we often forget to think about what in the world the song is talking about? The song is so ridiculously outlandish and absurd that many say if one were to actually receive all the gifts given to them it would cost them a small fortune. PNC banking group has taken the song and used it as a tool to teach economics, rules of inflation, and money management. According to them in 2014, A Partridge in a Pear Tree costs $207.68 (+3.8%). Check it out. It is quite an entertaining website.
If you are like me you often ask the question why? Who wrote this song and why?
The Twelve Days of Christmas was originally written in order to teach children Christian doctrine. According to legend it was used during times of persecution when open practice of faith was forbidden.
“From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics.” - gotthebible.com
So the song was written as a “secret code” to teach Christian truths to children.
The actual 12 days represent the days between Christmas on December 25th and Epiphany on January 6th. Epiphany was the traditional celebration commemorating the arrival of the Wise Men. Yes, those wise men in the nativity scenes didn’t actually show up till years later. However, it helps to add a little diversity into our nativity scenes by including them and their camels.
These gifts that are given on each day are not particularly representative of anything in their choice but rather in their number. Most people believe the birds, rings, and animals are nothing more than memory tricks to help with the numbers that represent Christian doctrines. But the act of giving a gift is a solid Christmas gift in that Jesus Christ is the ultimate gift from God to save humanity. So hopefully this will shed new light on our misinterpretation of this seemingly “silly” song.
|GIFTS||WHAT THEY REPRESENT|
|Partridge in a pear tree||Jesus Christ, who died on a tree for our sins|
|Two turtledoves||The Old and New Testaments|
|Three French hens||Faith, hope, and love(the three abiding virtues according to I Cor. 13) or the three Wise Men|
|Four calling birds||The four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)|
|Five golden rings||The Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible|
|Six geese a-laying||Six days of creation (Genesis 1)|
|Seven swans a-swimming||The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:6-8)|
|Eight maids a-milking||The eight Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11)|
|Nine ladies dancing||The nine fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)|
|Ten lords a-leaping||The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17)|
|Eleven pipers piping||The eleven faithful apostles (Acts 1:13)|
|Twelve drummers drumming||The twelve points of the Apostles’ Creed|