Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Twelve Days of Christmas: A Catholic "Legend"

The days seems to be running past so quickly! The first week of Advent is almost over, yesterday was a First Friday, today is a First Saturday, and this Monday is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation!

As we consider all that the Season of Advent means, we should not forget the fidelity and good example of those who came before us. Back in 1999, an old friend shared this interesting "legend" about the origins of (and the symbolism in) the very old song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas":

From 1558 until 1829 Roman Catholics in England were not allowed to practice their faith openly. During that era someone wrote "The Twelve Days of Christmas" as a kind of secret catechism that could be sung in public without the risk of persecution. (Added Note: There are slight variations about the symbolism of the song; here is one I think most likely. - MCB)

The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ and His Virgin Mother.

The two turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments.

Three French hens stand for faith, hope and charity.

The four calling birds are the four Gospels.

The five golden rings recall five decades of a Rosary.

The six geese-a-laying stand for the six days of creation.

Seven swans-a-swimming represent the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The eight maids-a-milking are the eight beatitudes.

Nine ladies dancing represent the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.

The ten lords-a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.

Eleven pipers piping stand for the eleven faithful Apostles.

Twelve drummers symbolize the twelve points of belief in the Apostles Creed.

As my friend said then, "We might want to commit this to memory for the days and years ahead."

A blessed Advent to one and all!

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