The Twelve Days of Christmas

Have you ever wondered what the meaning behind the Twelve Days of Christmas song was?

I have and so finally did some research about it 🙂 – this is what I found.

It the song is English and was written for young catholic children sometime between 1558 and 1829 when Roman Catholics in England were not allowed to openly practice their faith. The song has two levels of meaning:

  • the surface meaning
  • a hidden meaning known only to members of the Church.

Each element in the song was code for a religious item which the children could remember.

The “True Love” is Jesus Christ, because true love was born on Christmas Day.

  1. The partridge in the pear tree represents Jesus because the bird is willing to sacrifice its life if necessary to protect its young by feigning injury to draw away predators.
  2. Two turtle doves are the Old and New Testaments
  3. Three French hens stood for faith, hope, and love
  4. Four calling birds are the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
  5. Five golden rings represent the first five books of the Old Testament, which describe man’s fall into sin and the great love of God in sending a Savior
  6. Six geese a-laying stands for the six days of creation
  7. Seven swans a-swimming represent the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit – Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy
  8. Eight maids a-milking the eight beatitudes.
  9. Nine ladies dancing the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit—–Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience [Forbearance], Goodness [Kindness], Mildness, Fidelity, Modesty, Continency [Chastity]
  10. Ten lords a-leaping – the Ten Commandments
  11. Eleven pipers piping – the eleven faithful Apostles
  12. Twelve drummers drumming symbolise the twelve points of belief in The Apostles’ Creed.

Source: Fr. Calvin Goodwin, FSSP, Nebraska

If you are wondering what the Apostles Creed is visit


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