Thursday, December 20, 2012
Religion • Secret Meaning Behind Popular Christmas Carol
Compiled by Rev. Austin Miles
The Twelve Days of Christmas, a baffling Carol about a partridge in a pear tree, swimming swans, leaping lords and French hens, along with other peculiar activities has an interesting history and deep meaning.
A check of history revealed that from 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. An anonymous Christian during that time, wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics.
It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church.
Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.
One 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.
Four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
Five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
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.
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.
Ten Lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.
Eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
Twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in The Apostles’ Creed.
Sing it with extra joy this Christmas. Oh yes, the 12 days of Christmas would be from December 25th to January 5th, which is St. Nicholas Eve, which would be the first date recorded for the Christmas celebration and still celebrated by many around the world today.
You can hear this on KLOVE Radio at 5 PM (Pacific) on Sunday, December 23, 2012,and Air-1 Radio Network at 6 PM Pacific. It can also be heard at: http://www.klove.com/news and click on, “Closer Look.”
For more on St. Nicholas, see my story: “Santa’s Surprising Origins” on this website.