12 Days of Christmas History

Why the Twelve Days of Christmas Was Written – 12 Days of Christmas History

I know you’ve heard (and most likely sang) the fun and familiar tune; “The Twelve Days of Christmas” but do you know the history and why it was originally written?

Don’t fret, I just discovered this for myself recently and was amazed that it had to do with Christian persecution.

Read the Rest of the Christmas Story >>

The Rest of the 12 Days of Christmas Story

In an ancient period of time, between 1558 to 1829, it was actually against the law to be a Catholic.

Under a new law they could not outwardly practice their faith, nor could they do so privately.

People caught with anything written for the faith could face punishment by imprisonment, decapitation or hanging along with other forms.

The Song as a Teaching Tool

The writing of the Twelve Days of Christmas was meant to be a catechism song so that young Catholics could learn the meaning of their faith. In other words, the 12 Days of Christmas song has a hidden meaning. So, without further discussion, here are the lyrics and true meaning:

“My true love gave to me..”

I’ve always thought the song was alluding to a lover – maybe a fiancee. The “true love” mentioned here is God and the love He has for us. The “me” who is receiving all the 12 gifts are the Christians.

1st Day = A Partridge in a Pear Tree = Jesus Christ

2 Turtle Doves = Old and New Testament of the Bible

3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues

4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and / or the Four Evangelists – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

5 Golden Rings = The “Torah” or the first Five Books of the Old Testament – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy:

6 Geese A laying = God created the world in six days

7 Swans A swimming = seven spiritual gifts given by God

8 Maids A milking = eight beatitudes from the “Sermon on the Mount” given by Jesus

9 Ladies Dancing = nine fruits of the Holy Spirit

10 Lords A leaping = ten commandments

11 Pipers Piping = eleven faithful disciples

12 Drummers Drumming = twelve points of the Apostle’s Creed

And now you know the rest of the story. I believe from now on when I sing or even hear the Twelve Days of Christmas played I will listen with a new awareness and contemplate what Christmas is all about – and what Christ did for me – and you.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Lyrics:

On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, A partridge in a pear tree.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me; Two turtle doves, And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me

Three French hens, Two turtle doves, And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me

Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle doves, And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me

Five golden rings, Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle doves, And a partridge in pear tree.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me

Six geese a-laying, Five golden rings, Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me

Seven swans a-swimming, Six geese a-laying, Five golden rings, Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me

Eight maids a-milking, Seven swans a-swimming, Six geese a-laying, Five golden rings, Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me

Nine ladies dancing, Eight maids a-milking, Seven swans a-swimming, Six geese a-laying, Five golden rings, Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me

Ten lords a-leaping, Nine ladies dancing, Eight maids a-milking, Seven swans a-swimming, Six geese a-laying, Five golden rings, Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me

Eleven pipers piping, Ten lords a-leaping, Nine ladies dancing, Eight maids a-milking, Seven swans a-swimming, Six geese a-laying, Five golden rings, Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me

Twelve drummers drumming, Eleven pipers piping, Ten lords a-leaping, Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking, Seven swans a-swimming, Six geese a-laying, Five golden rings, Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree!

I hope you enjoyed the 12 Days of Christmas history and origin. Now, take a minute to go and read the rest of the Christmas Story.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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