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The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas is a song intended to teach the Catholic faith. In England, after the organization of the Church of England, Catholics were not allowed to openly practice the faith (1558-1829). This song was created as a way to keep the faith alive without being able to attend Mass, receive the sacraments or attend religious education. “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…a partridge in a pear tree.” My “true love” actually refers to God Himself while the “me” who receives all of the presents symbolizes every baptized person. Jesus Christ is the “partridge in a pear tree.” A mother partridge is a fierce protector or her young and will even sacrifice herself to protect them. This is symbolic of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for our sins. The other symbols continue the symbolism:

  • 2 turtle doves – the Old and New Testaments;
  • 3 French hens – Faith, Hope and Charity;
  • 4 calling birds – the Four Gospels;
  • 5 golden rings – the first 5 books of the Old Testament, which give the history of man's fall from grace;
  • 6 geese a laying – the six days of creation;
  • 7 swans a swimming – seven gifts of the Holy Spirit;
  • 8 maids a milking – the eight Beatitudes;
  • 9 ladies dancing – nine choirs of angels;
  • 10 lords a leaping – the Ten Commandments;
  • 11 pipers piping – the eleven faithful Apostles;
  • 12 drummers drumming – the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.