In the days of the first Christians when they had to go ‘underground’ to keep the faith alive, they ingeniously devised ways to communicate with one another, encouraging each other, while hiding their true message from the persecutors. Tradition tells us that this holiday tune sent the message of Christ throughout the underground church at the same time gaining the popular acceptance of the unbelievers.
This song, the “12 Days of Christmas”, has survived until modern times although not many people are aware of its true, hidden meaning. As we sing this Christmas song this year, may it remind us of the important tenets of our Christian faith.
“On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…”
The “true love” represents God and the “me” who receives these presents is the Christian.
The “Partridge in a Pear Tree” is Jesus Christ who died on a tree as a gift from God.
The “two turtle doves” are the Old and New Testaments, another gift from God.
The “three French hens” are faith, hope, and love, the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (1 Cor. 13).
The “four calling birds” represent the four Gospels which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.
The “five golden rings” stand for the first five books of the Bible also called the “Books of Moses”.
The “eight maids a-milking” are the eight beatitudes.
The “nine ladies dancing” are the nine fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
The “ten lords a-leaping” stand for the Ten Commandments.
The “eleven pipers piping” remind us of the eleven faithful disciples.
The “twelve drummers drumming” are the twelve points of the Apostles’ Creed.