'The Twelve Days of Christmas' is a study guide for all Christians

By Paul Viau | Dec 23, 2012
Photo by: File photo PARTRIDGE AND A PEAR TREE — Songs bring special meaning to our lives.

We all know the Christmas song/carol that begins, “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me — a partridge in a pear tree.”

Did you know? — According to lore and legend, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was created as a primer for children to aid their study of the Christian catechism.
It harkens back to a time when many Christian groups were oppressed and repressed, unable to practice their religion openly. In fact, back in the day, just being a certain kind of Christian could cost you your life. So early Christians, gathered — not in public — but in the safety of their homes. And during the Christmas season they would sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

Editorializing for a minute, I’m proud to live a faith-filled community where we don’t always have to be way-too-politically correct. And I’m happy to write for a newspaper that let’s me tell you that.

So here you are, as folktale and legend tells it:

1. On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me — a partridge in a pear tree.
(The lone partridge represents Jesus Christ.)

2. On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me — two turtle doves.
(One dove each for the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.)

3. On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me — three French hens.
(Those hens stand for faith, hope and love.)

4. On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me — four calling birds.
(The four birds call to mind the four gospels of the New Testament — Mathew, Mark, Luke and John.)

5. On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me — five golden rings.
(Going back to the Hebrew days, the first five books of the Old Testament were called the Torah [or Law])

6. On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me — six geese a-laying.
(Remember, God created the world in six days. On the seventh day he rested)

7. On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me — seven swans a-swimming. (According to scripture, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit  — prophesy, serving, teaching, exhortation, contribution, leadership and mercy.)

8. On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me — eight maids a-milking.
(That’s one maid for each of the beatitudes — Mathew 5/3-12 — Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, they who hunger, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakes [Boy do we need them now!], and finally, those who are persecuted…)

9. On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me — nine ladies dancing.
(It just so happens that there are nine fruits of the Holy Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.)

10. On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me — ten lords a-leaping.
(This is a simple one — The Ten commandments)

11. On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me — eleven pipers piping. (Remember — of the twelve disciples, only eleven were faithful.)

12. On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me — twelve drummers drumming. (Count for yourself — there are twelve points of belief in the Apostles Creed.)

Well, there you have it. I hope this column reminds you of “The reason for the season.” Let’s all work hard to keep Christ in Christmas.

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