Meaning of the 12 Days of Christmas

Meaning of the 12 Days of Christmas

According to the Handbook of Catholic Sacramentals by Ann Ball, the famous song about the 12 Days of Christmas was written in England as a catechism song for young Catholics in the days when it was illegal to practice or teach the Catholic Faith.  It contains hidden meanings intended to help children remember lessons of faith.  Instead of referring to an earthly suitor, the “true love” mentioned in the song really refers to God.  The “me” who receives the presents is symbolic of every baptized person.

Partridge in a pear tree: Jesus Christ, symbolized as a mother partridge that feigns injury to decoy predators from helpless nestlings.

Two turtle doves: Old & New Testaments

Three French Hens: Faith, Hope, and Love

Four Calling birds: The Four Gospels

Five Golden Rings: The Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy)

Six geese a laying: Six days of creation

Seven Swans a swimming: 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Eight maids a-milking: 8 Beatitudes from Matthew 5

Nine Ladies Dancing: Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit

Ten Lords a-leaping: 10 Commandments

Eleven pipers piping: The 11 faithful disciples

12 drummers drumming: 12 articles of the Apostles Creed


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