The Twelve Days of Christmas
This old and beloved carol is Ireland’s very own. During the centuries when it was a crime to be Catholic and to practice one’s faith, in public or private, in Ireland and England “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was written as a “catechism song” to help young Catholics learn the beliefs of their faith. It was a memory aid when being caught with anything in writing indicating adherence to the Catholic faith could not only get you imprisoned, it could get you hung.
The songs gifts are hidden meanings to the teachings of the faith. The “true love” mentioned in the song doesn’t refer to an earthly suitor, it refers to God himself. The “me” who receives the presents refers to every baptized person.
- A Partridge in a pear tree – Jesus Christ, the son of God.
- Two turtle doves – The Old and New Testaments
- Three french hens – Faith, Hope and Charity, the theological virtues.
- Four calling birds – The four Gospels and/or the four Evangelists.
- Five golden rings – The first five books of the Old Testament (The Pentateuch).
- Six geese a-laying – Six days of creation.
- Seven swans a swimming – The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven Sacraments.
- Eight maids a-milking – The eight Beatitudes.
- Nine ladies dancing – The nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit (sometimes also listed as the nine classifications of angels).
- Ten lords a-leaping – The Ten Commandments.
- Eleven pipers pipering – The eleven faithful apostles.
- Twelve drummers drumming – The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed