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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

(13) 12 days of Christmas

Origin of "The Twelve Days of Christmas"

The above song to most people is just a nonsense rhyme set to music. But it is more than just a repetitious melody and had quite a serious purpose when it was written. Roman Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829 were prohibited from any practice of their faith by law in private or in public. It was in fact a crime to be a Roman Catholic.

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "Catechism Songs" to help secret young Roman Catholics learn the tenets of their faith. The poem was a memory aid for those unenlightened times when to be caught with anything in writing indicating adherence to the Roman Catholic faith could not only get you transported to a nasty place such as America, but also imprisoned, beheaded or hanged.

The song's gifts are hidden meanings to the teachings of the faith. The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn't refer to an earthly suitor, it refers to God. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptised person. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ and the two turtle doves are the old and new Testaments.

The other verses represent the following:

3 French Hens are Faith, Hope and Charity,

4 Calling Bird are The Four Gospels,

5 Golden Rings are the first five books of the Old Testaments,

6 Geese A-Laying are the six days of creation,

7 Swans A-Swimming are the seven gifts of The Holy spirit,

8 Maids A-Milking are the eight beatitudes,

9 Ladies Dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit,

10 Lords A-Leaping are the Ten commandments,

11 Pipers Piping are the eleven faithful apostles,

12 Drummers Drumming are the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed.

Find these 12 days of Christmas ornaments at Crate and Barrel.