Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Little Late, I Know...Meaning of Twelve Days of Christmas

Well, I know that Christmas is over (regrettably) and the New Year is approaching, but I still feel in the Christmas spirit (probably because I still have all my decorations up...I know, I know...it's bad luck to have them up after the New Year, or so my Gran would say, but I just can't seem to take them down...they make the home feel so cozy and warm and I just love my Snowflake Tree!)...anyways, I've digressed...

Before Christmas my grandmother sent me an e-mail with the true meaning to the Twelve Days of Christmas song. At the time, I thought, oh this is interesting and would be a great thing to write about...but then there were presents to wrap, parties to throw, Christmas lights to see and cookies to make...so I'm a little late.

So you've probably wondered what maids a milking, lords a leaping and french hens have to do with Christmas? I know that I've always thought it a little strange, but there's actually a lot of history and meaning behind the song. You see, in England from 1558 until 1829 Roman Catholics were not allowed to practice their faith openly. So, in order to teach the young Catholic children the true meaning of Christmas, someone wrote this song. Only the church members knew what the partridge in the pear tree, five golden rings or any of the other elements really stood for.

Here are the real meanings:

Partridge in a Pear Tree is Jesus Christ

Two Turtle Doves are the Old and New Testaments

Three French Hens stand for Faith, Hope and Love (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Four Calling Birds are the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

Five Golden Rings recalled the Torah or the Law, which are the first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy

Six Geese A-Laying stands for the six days of Creation (Genesis 1)

Seven Swans a Swimming represents the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership and Mercy (Romans 12:6-8)

Eight Maids a Milking are the Eight Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10) *(See the bottom of the post for these)

Nine Ladies Dancing are the Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control (Galatians 5:22)

Ten Lords a Leaping are the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) *(See the bottom of the post for these)

Eleven Pipers Piping stands for the eleven faithful disciples: Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James bar Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas bar James (Does not include Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus)

Twelve Drummers Drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed *(See the bottom of the post for these)

**Eight Beatitudes:
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit
2. Blessed are those who mourn
3. Blessed are the meek
4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
5. Blessed are the mercifun
6. Blessed are the pure in heart
7. Blessed are the peacemakers
8. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake

**Ten Commandments:
1. You shall have no other gods before me
2. Do not make an idol
3. Do not take God's name in vain
4. Remember the Sabbath Day
5. Honor your father and mother
6. Do not murder
7. Do not commit adultery
8. Do not steal
9. Do not bear false witness
10. Do not covet

**Twelve Points of Belief in Apostles' Creed:
1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth
2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord
3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary
4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell (the grave).
5. On the third day, he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
6. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
7. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
8. the holy Catholic church,
9. the communion of Saints,
10. the forgiveness of sins,
11. the resurrection of the body,
12. and life everlasting.

Did you have any idea that that one little song could have so much meaning to it? It teaches a lot about the Christian faith and I'm sure helped the young children remember these key points. I hope everyone had a wonderful, healthy and happy Christmas with their family and friends. And I want to wish everyone a prosperous and healthy 2009.

Happy New Year!

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