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The Meaning of the 12 Days of Christmas

I came across this while doing research on the Internet and found out that popular song that we all know with the confusing lyrics "partridge in a pear tree", "two turtle doves", "three french hens", etc. has special hidden meaning behind them.

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 practising Catholicism was criminalized in England (1558 until 1829). There is no primary evidence supporting this claim, and no evidence that the claim is historical, or "anything but a fanciful modern day speculation."The theory is of relatively recent origin. It was first suggested by Canadian English teacher and hymnologist Hugh D. McKellar in a short article, "How to Decode the Twelve Days of Christmas," published in 1979. In a later article published in the music journal The Hymn, he reiterates that the associations are his. The idea was further popularized by a Catholic priest, Fr. Hal Stockert, in an article he wrote in 1982 and posted online in 1995.

  • The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
  • Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
  • Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
  • The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
  • The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
  • The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
  • Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit–Prophecy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
  • The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
  • Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit–Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
  • The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.
  • The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
  • The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.

Although there is no proof that this is why this song came to be it is interesting to read about. A lot of times faith cannot be proven.

- Wilson Evergreens