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12 Days of Christmas

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The ’12 Days Of Christmas’ was published in England in 1780 without music as a chant or rhyme, is thought to be French in origin. The standard tune is  now ranked as one of the top ten favorite Christmas songs sung. Surely, we all can remember the ‘five golden rings’ part we sang as children.

The song itself is filled with symbolic meaning. The actual symbols you are singing about in the popular Christmas carol are common theology teaching lessons. After you check out the list you will never sing the song the same again.

They are as follows:

  • A partridge in a pear tree is Jesus.
  • Two turtle doves refers to the The Old and New Testaments.
  • Three French hens would be  three kings bearing gifts.
  • Four calling  birds are the four Gospels.
  • Five gold rings is The Torah or Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament.
  • Six geese a-laying is  the six days of Creation.
  • Seven swans a-swimming would be  the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit
  • Eight maids a-milking are the eight Beatitudes.
  • Nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
  • Ten lords a-leaping are thee Ten Commandments.
  • Eleven pipers piping are  the eleven faithful Apostles.
  • Twelve drummers drumming are the twelve points of the Apostles’ Creed.

The twelve days in the song are the twelve days starting with Christmas Day, or in some traditions, the day after Christmas (December 26) (Boxing Day or St. Stephen’s Day, as being the feast day of St. Stephen Protomartyr), to the day before Epiphany, or the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6, or the Twelfth Day). Twelfth Night is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “the evening of the fifth of January, preceding Twelfth Day, the eve of the Epiphany, formerly the last day of the Christmas festivities and observed as a time of joy and parties.

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