Carols

Festivals of Light

12 Days of Christmas
illustrated by David Delamare

 

 

Twelve Days of Christmas explained

 

What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won’t come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?

 

Today, I found out.

 

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 partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

 

Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

 

Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

 

The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

 

The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

 

The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

 

Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership,  and Mercy.

 

The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

 

Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy  Spirit--Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness,  and Self Control.

 

The ten lords a-leaping were the ten  commandments.

 

The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful  disciples.

 

The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of  belief in the Apostles’ Creed.