Isn’t It Just A Christmas Song?
That’s probably what most think – that this is just a song heard every year at Christmas time – a repetitive, and, at times, monotonous rendition of a variety of gifts given over a twelve day period.
But, I beg to differ. It is so much more than just a little ditty that crops up every Christmas – and, is sung by amateurs and professionals alike.
The actual official “twelve days of Christmas” start on December 25th each year – which is the arbitrary date we place on the birth of Jesus. The birth date of Christ, 25 December, has been a pretty solid guess since the third century A.D. – and takes into account that Jesus’ mother, the Virgin Mary, conceived during the Spring equinox – around March 25th. Add nine months for her period of pregnancy – and we arrive at December 25th as the probable date of Jesus’ nativity – the dawn of the Savior of the human race.
The reason for the number – twelve – is that it took that many days for word to spread throughout the ancient world – which culminated in the Magi – labeled the three kings – or, the three wise men – making the trek to Bethlehem – to bestow their special gifts upon Jesus.
Gold – A symbol of being a King (of the Jews) – as Jesus was hoped to become at the time.
Frankincense – A type of incense that evokes the notion that He “comes from God.”
Myrrh – An embalming oil symbolic of one who is mortal and would eventually die – just like all mortals do.
Thus, the “twelve days of Christmas” begin on December 25th and finish on January 5th each year.
Just don’t tell your kids – unless you’re ready to provide them with gifts each and every day during the “entire Christmas season.” Keep it to yourself – and you’ll enjoy the “reason for the season” without going broke!
Now, Let’s Talk A Little About That Song!
The Twelve Days Of Christmas – listen and watch – as the late, great John Denver sings it with the Sesame Street Muppets:
It has been said that during the Middle Ages in the bygone days of merry ole England, Catholics were banned from practicing their religion in public.
So, how could they teach Christian religious principles to their children?
Why not disguise it in the form of a Christmas song? This is exactly what these religious “lawbreakers” decided to do – and the song, “The Twelve Days Of Christmas” was conjured up!
Now, About The Meaning Of The Song – The Twelve Days Of Christmas!
On The First Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me – A Partridge In A Pear Tree
A partridge in a pear tree represents Jesus himself. The partridge is a bird that will defend its children by risking its own life – just as we all know Jesus did – by offering himself to be crucified on the cross. The pear tree signifies the cross upon which Jesus was slaughtered.
On The Second Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me – Two Turtle Doves
Two turtle doves reference the connection between the two main sections of the Bible – marrying the Old Testament to the New Testament. Just like two turtle doves in love, the Old and New Testaments of the Bible complement, support, and admire each other.
On The Third Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me – Three French Hens
Three French hens symbolize love (charity), faith, and hope – the three religious virtues that we should all aspire to – whether we are Christian or not.
On The Fourth Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me – Four Calling Birds
Four calling birds refer to the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – which discuss four followers of Jesus who spread His Word far and wide – “unto the ends of the world.”
On The Fifth Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me – Five Gold Rings
Five gold rings are the first five books of the Bible – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy – otherwise known as the Pentateuch. The word “Pentateuch” is a Greek phrase – loosely translated to mean five books – or five scrolls. In some cultures, the word “golden” is used instead of “gold” in the song.
On The Sixth Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me Six Geese A Laying
Six geese a laying corresponds to the time it took God to create the world – six days! The eggs signify creation – or, new life. The image of geese laying eggs relates to the hand of God passing over the void to create our world – as a place for new life to thrive.
On The Seventh Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me Seven Swans A Swimming
Seven swans a swimming are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. And, they are – 1) counsel, 2) fortitude, 3) knowledge, 4) wisdom, 5) understanding, 6) piety, and 7) fear of the Lord.
On The Eighth Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me Eight Maids A Milking
Eight maids a milking denote the eight beatitudes. Now, what the heck is a “beatitude?” It’s a Latin word meaning “blessed” – which relates to the eight basic blessings that Jesus talked about at the Sermon on the Mount. To be blessed – is to be filled with happiness – by Jesus’ definition.
- Blessed are the poor in spirit – for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. In other words be thankful and at peace for what you have – and share what you can with those that are needy – in the name of God.
- Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Give aid and comfort to those folks who suffer – and raise the spirits of those who have endured loss in their life.
- Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Humbling yourself will give you a greater understanding of who you are as well as the comforting feeling that you have a place waiting for you in Heaven. But, those people with huge egos and an over exaggerated sense of importance will never make it to the kingdom of God. They may very well be sent to “the other place” – if you know what I mean.
- Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. And, what makes us “righteous?” For starters, I would consider that a person is righteous if they follow God’s laws – the Ten Commandments – and, apply the Golden Rule by not infringing upon the rights of others – “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Such a person has gone a long way to becoming a twinkle in God’s eye – which should make them “satisfied.”
- Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. When other people are unkind to us, we should show compassion and forgive them – for until we “walk a mile in their shoes”, we will not understand what actually causes them to be callous and cruel. Try to find ways to show them kindness and empathy.
- Blessed are the clean at heart, for they will see God. Our ethical nature requires us to “do what is right” – when we know the right thing to do. Halfway measures don’t cut it – we have to go all out – 100% – and only then, will we be privileged to be in the presence of God. Even Jesus professed to being nauseated – to the point of vomiting – in the presence of “Christians in name only” – who talk a good game but, they don’t “walk the talk.”
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. In other words, don’t go off “half-cocked” – in a vengeful rage – throwing daggers at every turn. Jesus was the “Prince of Peace” – and, to follow his example, we should be at peace within ourselves and promote peace and harmony throughout our existence – with everyone we come in contact with.
- Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. No matter how much scorn and derision may be thrown at us, we must follow God’s teachings, laws, and rules – given to us by his only son, Jesus Christ. We should live our lives based on our morals and faith – and ignore judgments and opinions to the contrary – that may get thrown our way – by all the naysayers.
On The Ninth Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me – Nine Ladies Dancing
Nine ladies dancing equate to the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit – which are 1) faithfulness, 2) gentleness, 3) goodness, 4) kindness, 5) joy, 6) love, 7) patience, 8) peace, and 9) self-control.
On The Tenth Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me – Ten Lords A Leaping
Ten lords a leaping are actually a metaphor for the Ten Commandments.
- I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have any gods before Me. There is only one true God – so, stay away from false gods and goddesses – especially in the form of idols and statues.
- Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. We must honor the name of God – respecting it with the same passion and vigor that matches our love for God.
- Keep holy the Sabbath day. The Sabbath day actually starts at sundown on Friday and, ends at sundown on Saturday. But, most of us define the Lord’s Day as Sunday – for our Sabbath day. Just don’t tell anybody – shhhhh.
- Honor thy father and thy mother. This means showing respect to our parents as we are being raised by them – and taking care of our father and / or our mother – when they can no longer care for themselves.
- Thou shalt not kill. The Hebrew translation is more precise – “Thou shalt not murder” – since “murder” is defined as the wanton killing of an innocent person. But, killing to protect your life or the life of your family or neighbor – against an aggressor – isn’t morally wrong – and, technically, it’s not considered murder in the eyes of God.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery. This includes husbands and wives cheating on each other – or, any other forms of depraved sexual activities.
- Thou shalt not steal. This includes vandalism or cheating people out of their money or property – fraud, embezzlement, theft, etc.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Always tell the truth. “The truth will set you free!” When you are untruthful, you’ll always have to come up with new lies to protect the original perjury – and, pretty soon, you lose track of what you’ve lied about – and what you haven’t. So, for Heaven’s sake – just tell the truth – the whole truth – and nothing but the truth! So help you, God! Amen!
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife. Group this one in with the sixth Commandment – because, God considers sexuality to be a divine gift – making it sacred – and, He says our sexual appetite should be limited to a union between two people – such as a marriage ordained in His name.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods. This last one is linked to the seventh Commandment – by making it unlawful in God’s eyes to steal or to experience feelings of envy, greed, and jealousy with respect to other folks’ possessions.
On The Eleventh Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me – Eleven Pipers Piping
Eleven pipers piping represent the first 11 faithful Apostles (Disciples) of Jesus – 1) Peter, 2) Andrew, 3) James, 4) John, 5) Philip, 6) Matthew, 7) Thomas, 8) James (son of Alphaeus), 9) Simon (the Zealot), 10) Jude, and 11) Nathanael. The twelfth Apostle, Judas Iscariot, was a betrayer and not considered one of the faithful.
On The Twelfth Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me Twelve Drummers Drumming
Twelve drummers drumming are actually the traditional twelve beliefs of the Apostle’s Creed – based on the version put forth by the Catholic Church – to teach Catechism.
The twelve beliefs of the Apostle’s Creed are:
- In God the Father almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth.
- In Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
- That Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and was born by the Virgin Mary.
- That, under Pontius Pilate, Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried.
- That Jesus descended to the dead. And, on the third day, he rose again.
- That Jesus ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father, our God.
- That Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead.
- In the Holy Spirit.
- In the holy Catholic Church and the communion of saints.
- In the forgiveness of sins.
- In the resurrection of the body.
- In life everlasting.
If all the gifts are added up, the total number of gifts equals 364 – one gift for every day of the calendar year – excluding Christmas day – the day of Jesus’ birth.
This chart gives the breakdown:
A Final Note
Either the leaders of the Catholic Church were extremely wise or, the King of England – who proclaimed the religion of the times to be Protestant – was unwittingly duped not to recognize this song as a simple way for priests to teach Catechism to kids without getting into trouble with the “law of the land” penalizing Catholicism.
Some Great Christmas Albums To Spice Up The Holidays!
Christmas by pianist Ian Mulder
Angels We Have Heard On High is one of Mulder’s breathtaking performances on this album:
In conjunction with the London Symphony Orchestra, and Andrea Bocelli, Ian Mulder offers up the most beautiful Christmas carols – pleasantly warm and emotional. Christmas by Ian Mulder is truly a must have CD for the season!
100 Christmas Hits by Various Artists
My favorite on this CD is Silver Bells by Diana Ross and the Supremes:
Other amazing artists belting out great Christmas songs on this CD are Brenda Lee, Stevie Wonder, The Drifters, Connie Francis, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, The Four Seasons, and just so many, many more – it would take a whole page just to list every one of them! You will definitely want to have 100 Christmas Hits!
Christmas – Elvis Presley and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
You’ll have tears in your eyes after hearing Elvis sing I’ll Be Home For Christmas on his Christmas album:
Just by itself, this Christmas album is more than worth the cash to have it on hand for the season of giving. But, it comes with another great album by Elvis – The Wonder Of You – also recorded with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – which contains my all-time favorite version of Amazing Grace:
You can get both albums – Christmas and The Wonder Of You – as a package deal for a very low price. Don’t pass it up!
Well, I hope that I’ve given you a new appreciation for a simply worded Christmas song – The Twelve Days Of Christmas. A song that you may have once thought was just a silly set of senseless words put to music.
Leave a comment or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, with thoughts, suggestions – or, just a note of appreciation or criticism – whatever the case may be.
May your Christmas be as Merry as you want it to be – and then some!