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12 days of Christmas

The Twelve days of Christmas refers to the festive season of Christmas, beginning on the Christmas day (December 25) and goes on for twelve days. This period is also called Christmastide. However, it is very different from the Octave of Christmas as it refers to the liturgical time till the solemnity of Mary on 1st Oh January. Most people celebrate the feast of epiphany on 6th of January which is believed to be the day when the wise men (Magi) had visited baby Jesus and showered him with gifts. In many traditions, the twelfth day and feast of epiphany overlap.
Meaning of the song
    Each gift has a hidden meaning in the song.

    The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge that feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, much in memory of the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem.

    The "Two Turtle Doves" refers to The Old and New testaments which bear the witnesses to the God's teachings.

    The "Three French Hens" stand for three theological Virtues- Faith, hope and Love.

    "Four Calling Birds" are the Four Gospels- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

    The "Five Gold Rings" are the first Five books of the Old testament- Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

    "Six Geese a-laying" refers to the six days of creation confessing God to be the creator and sustainer of the world.

    The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit- Prophecy, Ministry, Teaching, Exhortation, Giving, Leading and Compassion are talked about in "Seven Swans a-swimming".

    "Eight maids a-milking" talks about the Eight Beautitudes- Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake.

    "Nine Ladies Dancing" talk about the nine Fruits of the Holy spirit- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

    "Ten Lords a-leaping" are the Ten commandments- You shall have no other gods before me; Do not make an idol; Do not take God's name in vain; Remember the Sabbath Day; Honor your father and mother; Do not murder; Do not commit adultery; Do not steal; Do not bear false witness; Do not covet.

    The Eleven faithful Apostles are talked about in "Eleven Pipers Piping"-Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James bar Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas bar James.

    And last, "Twelve Drummers Drumming" refers to the Twelve points of Doctrine in the Apostle's Creed-

    I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
    Believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son.
    He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
    He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
    On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
    He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
    Believe in the Holy Spirit,
    The holy Catholic Church,
    The communion of saints,
    The forgiveness of sins,
    The resurrection of the body,
    Life everlasting
Lyrics
The Christmas Carol recounting the gifts for each day is "true Love". Many people still follow the tradition of giving gifts to each other as well as to children on each of these days. In this carol, the "True love" refers to God himself. The lyrics and their meanings are-

On the first day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
A partridge in a pear tree.

On the second day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the third day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the fourth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the fifth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the sixth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the seventh day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the eighth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the ninth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the tenth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree!




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