The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas

by Vickey Pahnke   CES teacher, songwriter, producer

The story goes that from 1558 until 1829 people in England were not allowed to practice their faith openly. During this era, the song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ was written as a subtle way of celebrating Christ’s birth in public without risk of prosecution. The song’s lyrics had a hidden meaning known only to members of the church, each element of the twelve days offering code meaning for a religious reality. 

1. The partridge in a pear tree stood for Jesus Christ

2. The two turtledoves stood for the Old and New Testaments

3. Three French hens stood for faith, hope, and charity.

4. The four calling birds were the four gospels

5. The five gold rings represented the first five books of the Old Testament (the Law).

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

7. Seven swans a-swimming signified the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit.

8. The eight maids a-milking represented the beatitudes.

9. The Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Spirit (see the fifth chapter of Galatians).

10. Ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.

11. Eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

12. Twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles Creed.

Isn’t that fascinating? Whether or not the story is based on true occurrence, hearing this story gave me pause to reflect on the song. Each element of the lyrics offers a positive reason to celebrate Christianity. With the deeper meaning to contemplate, the song becomes a lighthearted anthem of praise and a tribute to those who dared celebrate, in song, their gratitude for Christ. I do believe I will more fully enjoy the tune from now on.

Aren’t we blessed to be able to worship the Savior without fear of harm? Maybe we should stand a little taller and be more open in sharing the gospel with those who don’t yet have the truth. Aren’t we blessed to have the scriptures to read and ponder? Maybe we should spend a bit more time reading those words that are openly available to us. Don’t we have somewhat to learn and practice in order to truly understand faith, hope, and love? Would it not be good to become better acquainted with the fruits of the Spirit, and be a better example of them?

There are only a few days before December 25th. I think I’ll listen to the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” a few times and celebrate the blessings of being able to openly and wholeheartedly celebrate! How about you?

One response

  1. Oh the memories. The wonderful memories of the Twelve Days of Christmas with your family throughout the years!

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