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The Meaning Behind the 12 Days of Christmas
Submitted 3 Dec 1999 by: John Z Gardiner   EurekaJohn@aol.com

Hi All, this was sent to me today, it ties into the discussion of the meaning behind various hymns and carols.
-John Z Gardiner

The 12 Days of Christmas -- The Rest of the Story

When most people hear of "The 12 Days of Christmas", they think of the song. This song had its origins as a teaching tool to instruct young people in the meaning and content of the Christian faith.

Each of the items in the song represents something of religious significance. The hidden meaning of each gift was designed to help young Christians learn their faith. The song goes, "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me..."

The "true love" represents God and the "me" who receives these presents is the Christian. Here you go:

The "partridge in a pear tree" was Jesus Christ who died on a tree as a gift from God.

The "two turtle doves" were the Old and New Testaments - another gift from God.

The "three French hens" were faith, hope and love - the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (I Corinthians 13).

The "four calling birds" were the four Gospels which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.

The "five golden rings" were the first five books of the Bible also called the "Books of Moses".

The "six geese a-laying" were the six days of creation.

The "seven swans a swimming" were the "seven gifts of the Holy Spirit". (I Corinthians 12:8-11; Romans 12, Ephesians 4; I Peter 4:10-11).

The "eight maids a milking" were the eight beatitudes.

The "nine ladies dancing" were nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22 & 23)

The "ten lords a-leaping" were the Ten Commandments.

The "eleven pipers piping" were the eleven faithful disciples.

The "twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of the Apostles' Creed.

So, the next time you hear "The 12 Days of Christmas", consider how this otherwise non-religious sounding song had its origins in the Christian faith.

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