Thursday, December 22, 2011

...And A Partridge In A Pear Tree!

I think that just about everyone is familiar with the Christmas Carol, "The Twelve Days of Christmas".  I grew up singing it, but never really understood it's meaning.  I thought it was just about some old Victorian custom of gift giving for the holidays.  Then, a few days ago I received an e-mail from my mom that explained this song.  I'd like to share it with you because I figure that if I grew up clueless to the meaning behind this beloved carol, maybe you're clueless, too. :0)

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.  It has two levels of meaning - the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

Here is what each day stood for...

1 - partridge in a pear tree = Jesus Christ
2 - turtle doves = the Old and New Testaments
3 - french hens = faith, hope and love
4 - calling birds = the four gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke & John
5 - golden rings = the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament;
     Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy 
6 - geese a-laying = the six days of creation
7 - swans a-swimming = the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit; prophecy,
     serving, teaching, exhortation, contribution, leadership and mercy
8 - maids a-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 - ladies dancing = the nine fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, 
     kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control
10 - lords a-leaping = the ten commandments
11 - pipers piping = the eleven faithful disciples
12 - drummers drumming = the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed

You can click here for printable coloring pages that go with "The Twelve Days of Christmas".  I think they would be a great tool for teaching your kiddos the meaning behind the song and keep them out of your hair give them something to do while you finish up the last of your Christmas preparations. :0)

So, tell me - did you know the story behind the carol, or were you clueless like me?

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea. That is really interesting! Thank you for sharing that!


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