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Twelve Days of Christmas Notes

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Twelve Days of Christmas

This is the time of year that we sing Christmas Carols most of which tell us about the birth of Jesus or the events around that great event.

However there are a few Christmas Carols that do not seam to have anything to do with Christmas one of them being The Twelve Days of Christmas,

Apart from letting us know that Christmas has twelve days, it tells us that someone’s true love sent them some presents, but what has such strange presents to do with the birth of Jesus.

A partridge in a pear tree, 

Two turtle doves, 

Three French hens, 

Four calling birds, 

Five gold rings, 

Six geese a-laying, 

Seven swans’ a-swimming, 

Eight maids’ a-milking, 

Nine ladies dancing, 

Ten lords’ a-leaping, 

Eleven pipers piping, 

Twelve drummers drumming. 

It is a good deal more than just a melody with pretty phrases and a list of strange gifts.

From 1558 to 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted by law to practice their faith openly or in private.

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England during that period as a "catechism song" to help young Catholics learn their faith.

It was a memory aid, as to be caught with anything in writing to do with the catholic faith, could be taken to mean that you were a Roman Catholic.

It was a very serous crime to be a Roman Catholic during that period in history. As the punishment for being a Roman Catholic was imprisoned, or hanging.

This carol has two meanings the words that we sing and a hidden meaning that was only know to the members of their faith.

Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn't refer to an earthly suitor, it refers to God. The giver of gifts and the giver of Greatest gift off all, Jesus Christ.

The "me" who receives the presents, refers to every person that has been baptized in to the faith of the Church.

A  partridge in a pear tree,

The Partridge is Jesus Christ and the Pear Tree is the Cross on which He was Crucified.

It also remind us of the Resurrection, on that First Easter Day, when Jesus over came death, and showed us that he was the Son of God.

2. Turtle doves

Represents the Old & New Testaments of the Bible.

The Old Testament is made up of 36 books which are dived up us follows;               

Hexateuch                              6 books

History of Israel                     8

Poetry                                    4

Wisdom                                  2

The Four Great Prophets     4

Twelve Minor Prophets        12


The New Testament is made up of 27 books which are dived up as follows;

Gospels                                   4 books

Acts of the Apostles               1

Pauline Epistles                     13

Epistle to the Hebrews          1

General Epistles                    7

Revelation                              1

3. French hens’

Stands for Faith, Hope and Love (1 Corinthians 13 v13)

Faith, Hope and Love, are the three principal graces, of which love is the greatest.

A life which begins in the Faith of Christ expresses itself through Love and is sustained by the Hope of salvation.


Love is not only the greatest gift of the Sprit; it is the only one which abides throughout eternity.


4. Calling Birds

Are the four Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

Matthew – Gospel was written in the first place to the Jews and tells the Good News that Jesus is the promised Savior – the Messiah whom the Jews had been expecting for so long.

Mark – Gospel is full of action, it is full of life and tells us about what Jesus did, and where he went – rather than what he said and taught.

Luke – Gospel is the most detailed and also tells us about the growth and spread of Christianity after Jesus return to Heaven, which Luke continues to tells about in the Acts of the Apostles.

John - Gospel is more concerned with the meaning of the events then with the events themselves. John also explains the miracles of Jesus as signs, showing us who Jesus really is.

Jesus through the Gospels tells us that, He is the Way the Truth and the Life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him. (John 14.6)                                 

5. Gold rings

Stand for the Torah, which is a name for the first 5 books of the Bible; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy.


Torah is also known as the Books of Moses and is the Hebrew Bible.


Genesis - tells about the creation, the origin of mankind, how things began to go wrong and Gods purpose for his creation.

Exodus – tells us how the people of Israel left Egypt, where they had been slaves, and how they emerged as a nation and given hope for the future.

Leviticus – is the rule book, it contains the laws about religious ceremonies, worship and daily life, which were designed to keep the people of Israel in the right relationship with God.


Numbers –this tells us about the Israelites during almost forty years of wandering in the Sinai Desert, the book begins just after their escape from Egypt and ends just before they enter the land that God had promised them.

Deuteronomy – consists of a number of speeches given by Moses to the Israelites in the plains of Moab, just before they entered the Promised Land, he also tells them that God had saved and blessed His people, and that they must always remember this and to love and obey God


6. Geese a-laying

Refer to the 6 days of creation. (Genesis 1 v1)

On the first day; God created day and night

On the Second Day; God created the firmament

On the third day; God created the Dry land and the seas, plants and trees


On the forth day; God created Day and Night, the Sun, Moon stars and the seasons.

On the fifth day; God created the sea creatures and the birds


On the sixth day; God created the land animals and other creatures. Also on the sixth day, God also created Mankind in is his own image. 

7. Boys a-singing

Stand for the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit; (Isaiah.11.2)







Fear of the Lord.

8. Maids a-milking

Are the eight Beatitudes: (Mathew 5 v 3-11)

Blessed are the poor in sprit, for theirs is the kingdom of                                    Heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the pacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven

9. Ladies dancing

Stand for the 9 fruiters of the Holy Spirit: (Galatians 5 v22)









Self Control.

10. Lords a-leaping

Are the 10 Commandments. (Exodus 20) (BCP)

You shall have no other God but me.

You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in Heaven or on or under the earth and worship it.

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in Vain.

Keep Holy the Sabbath Day

Honour your Father and your Mother


You shall not kill / murder


You shall not commit adultery

You shall not steal

You shall not bear false witness

You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor

11. Eleven pipers piping

Are the 11 faithful Disciples. (Luke 6.12)

Simon Peter


James, the son of Zebedee







Judas, the Brother of James


Judas Iscariot was the twelfth disciple and the one who betrayed Jesus.


12 drummers drumming

Symbolized the 12 points of faith in the Apostles’ Creed. (BCP)

I BELIEVE in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord:


Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary:


Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried:


He descended into hell;


The third day he rose again from the dead:


He ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty:


From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost:


The holy Catholic Church;


The Communion of Saints:


The Forgiveness of sins:


The Resurrection of the body, And the Life everlasting.


Next time you sing the Twelve Days of Christmas you will know what it is all about.

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