The following was an insert in our Sunday church bulletin.
THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS Here is the story of the Twelve Days of Christmas. In England between 1558 & 1829 it was a crime just to be a Catholic. Even a scrap of paper with Catholic teaching written on it could have dire consequences. Catholics devised “catechism songs” with nonsense lyrics having a hidden symbolic meaning to teach the faith to their children. This is one of them. The Twelve Days are the days between Christmas and the Epiphany, Jan. 6. The True Love in the song refers to God; the “me” who receives the presents is the baptized Catholic. And here are the gifts: The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, on the tree of the cross. The mother partridge, when her brood is threatened by a predator, will pretend injury to draw attention away from her helpless chicks. The partridge also recalls Christ’s sadness over the fate of Jerusalem, & all who ignore his gift of salvation: “Jerusalem how often would I have sheltered you under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but you would not!” Two turtle doves are the Old & New Testaments of the Bible. Three French hens represent the Trinity, three persons (Father, Son, & Holy Spirit) in one God, as well as the theological virtues of faith, hope, & charity. Four calling birds are the four evangelists who wrote the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John. Five golden rings are the first five books of the Old Testament. Six geese a-laying recall the six days of creation. Seven swans a-swimming bring to mind (a) the seven sacraments; (b) the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; (c) the seven corporal & seven spiritual works of mercy. Eight maids a-milking are the eight beatitudes. Nine ladies dancing represent the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit, while ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments. Eleven pipers piping are the eleven apostles (excluding Judas) who proclaimed the Gospel to all nations. Twelve drummers drumming are the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles Creed. As you sing The Twelve Days of Christmas during this holy season, remember its story. And teach its meaning to your children or share it with your friends.