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