We read quite a bit in our home, and when I say quite a bit I really mean it. It’s an everyday, numerous times a day, many, many, many books a day type of thing. So as we’ve been approaching Christmas most of our books have focused on some aspect of the season. I’ve always heard that there was more to “The 12 Days of Christmas” than just a fun little song so I decided to do a little research and see what I could come up with.
Turns out that there are different views on whether this song was actually used as a way to teach young Christians the basics of the faith. Some believe this was the case and some historians believe that it has always been a secular song. However the song came about, faith attributes have been assigned to each of the 12 days.
In the first line of the song we hear, “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…” In this line the true love refers to God the Father. Here is a list of commonly held references for the days listed in the song.
A Partridge in a Pear Tree - Jesus Christ
Two Turtle Doves – The Old and the New Testaments
Three French Hens – Faith, Hope, Love
Four Calling Birds – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
Five Golden Rings – The Pentateuch = Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy
Six Geese A-Laying – The six days it took for God to create the Earth
Seven Swans A-Swimming - Prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, and compassion
Eight Maids A-Milking – The eight Beatitudes: blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
Nine Ladies Dancing – Fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, long-suffering, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control
Ten Lord A-Leaping- Ten Commandments
Eleven Pipers Piping – The eleven faithful apostles
Twelve Drummers Drumming – The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed
Whether the song originated in order to remind people of the tenements of the faith or just a fun thing to sing it can be used in a manner which will remind people of important aspects of the Christian Faith. We’ve enjoyed reading the book associated with this song, examining the wonderful illustrations and explaining to our children what each of the days represents. It’s a fun way to remind them of what is important in this season packed with gifts and events.
I pray everyone who reads this has a blessed and safe Christmas. May the Lord watch you and bless you as you go through your day.