Monday, December 20, 2010

Are You Ready?

Christmas is almost upon us- I looked at the date at the bank, and I was shocked...Advent is almost over and the Christmas SEASON is almost here! My advice (not that you asked for it)- go to church on the second day of Christmas (it is a Sunday- very convenient) and make cookies the third day of Christmas (just have the ingredients on hand). And if I were you- I would stay out of the shops until the fourth day of Christmas.

Here is an explanation of the song we all love at this time of year. No matter what challenges the "world" gives Catholics, we find a way to remember the - REASON FOR THE SEASON

The 12 Days of Christmas
December 25-January 6th Epiphany/Theophany

Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829 were prohibited by law to practice their faith either in public or private. It was illegal to be Catholic until Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England in 1829.

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the basics of their faith. In short, it was a coded-message, a memory aid. Since the song sounded like rhyming nonsense, young Catholics could sing the song without fear of imprisonment. The authorities would not know that it was a religious song.

"The 12 Days of Christmas" is in a sense an allegory. Each of the items in the song represents something significant to the"The 12 Days of Christmas" is in a sense an allegory. Each of the items in the song represents something significant to the teachings of the Catholic faith. The hidden meaning of each gift was designed to help Catholic children learn their faith. The better acquainted one is with the Bible, the more these interpretations have significance.

The song goes, "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…" The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn’t refer to an earthly suitor, but it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. i.e. the Church.

1st Day: The partridge in a pear tree is Christ Jesus upon the Cross. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge because she would feign injury to decoy a predator away from her nestlings. She was even willing to die for them. The tree is the symbol of the fall of the human race through the sin of Adam and Eve. It is also the symbol of its redemption by Jesus Christ on the tree of the Cross.

2nd Day: The "two turtle doves" refers to the Old and New Testaments.

3rd Day: The "three French hens" stand for faith, hope and love—the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (1 Corinthians 13).

4th Day: The "four calling birds" refers to the four evangelists who wrote the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.

5th Day: The "five golden rings" represents the first five books of the Bible, also called the Jewish Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

6th Day: The "six geese a-laying" is the six days of creation.

7th Day: The "seven swans a-swimming" refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.

8th Day: The "eight maids a milking " reminded children of the eight beatitudes listed in the Sermon on the Mount.

9th Day: The "nine ladies dancing" were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

10th Day: The "ten lords a-leaping" represents the Ten Commandments

11th Day: The "eleven pipers piping" refers to the eleven faithful apostles.

12th Day: The ‘twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of belief expressed in the Apostles’ Creed: belief in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, mad"e man, crucified, died and arose on the third day, that he sits at the right hand of the father and will come again, the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting.

This is the time of martyrs too, St. Stephen and the Holy Innocents. May 2011 be a year when we remember those who have suffered real losses for Christ. Let us continue to bring real peace and justice to earth by valuing the sanctity of life. (reprinted from VOCAL)


  1. Thanks for this great post and the comment on my blog! I'm a new reader of your blog :)

  2. Hey...this story was in our bulletin this weekend! I'd never heard of it before. And now I see it here :)

  3. We have a lovely pop-up-book version of this carol (by the insanely imaginative Robert Sabuda), which an Anglican-priest friend gave us, in the days when we were also Anglican (and a priest family), and which he carefully annotated with the catechetical meanings for each of the verses. It's one of our treasures.

    I was just telling my First Communion class this story on Sunday, in fact -- and wishing I'd thought more about it beforehand, so that I could bring in the book. Instead I'd brought one of my favorite stories to introduce Confession, which was probably enough read-aloud for one lesson. But still . . . maybe when we come back, as it'll still be Christmas, and they'll probably need reminding.

  4. My Dear Sister in Christ,I love It.Thank you for telling us the meaning of our beloved song.I didn't know it was written for Catholic Children.It seems to me the beliefs you spoke of are no different through out Christ loving,Bible reading christians,I'm I wrong?I would love you to teach me with a response.

  5. Denise- yes- we have lots in common- first and foremost- Jesus Christ! :)

    reading the Bible is so important- my mom is the best example of this- she reads a chapter every night and has read the entire way through almost 10 times!

  6. I hate to be a party-pooper, but this story is false. has an extensive article about it.


    Below from Wikipedia article:

    "A bit of modern folklore claims that the song's lyrics were written as a "catechism song" to help young Catholics learn their faith, at a time when practicing Catholicism was discouraged in England (1558 until 1829). There is no substantive primary evidence supporting this claim, and no evidence that the claim is historical, or "anything but a fanciful modern day speculation."[1]

    I've heard a lot of people claim that it is about the catechism, but if you think about it during that time the English were Anglicans and very close to our beliefs. They had the gospels, the beatitudes, etc. So it doesn't make sense that they would ban a song that clearly went with their beliefs. They would mistake the song for something an Anglican would sing.

    Furthermore, there is evidence that the song is French in origin.

    Sorry to disappoint everyone. But the claim that the song has Catholic origins as a catechism lesson is false.

  8. That's too can see where it could be used as a catechism song- it's a little like the 'Candy Cane' story- the origins aren't there, but it can be used as a tool now

  9. I rather like this verson of the Twelve Days of Christmas much better than the normal one. It never made sense to me as a Christmas song. I think that using the song to teach young Catholics about the faith is a wonderful idea. If the song doesn't really mean this then I think it should.

  10. Electra- You rock! Is that your real name?- I love it

  11. I think it's fine if you want to use it as a teaching tool. Sorry to bust the bubble. I just didn't want people to get the idea that it's origins were religious when they aren't.

    Merry Christmas!

  12. I can see my daughter Imogen has made it here first once again! I ended up writing a story about daughters, blogging, paper dolls and how children learn. I'd like to wish you and your family a very joyful Christmas. May God bless you all.


thanks for commenting! (comments on old posts are moderated)