Saturday, December 24, 2005

Now that I finally have gotten around to writing again, I'm gonna work it for all it's worth... I got the following by email the other day, and thought it would be good to post today. I've heard it before, but it's always good. Enjoy!

The Twelve Days of Christmas

In the 16th century the British Catholics were forbidden to practice their faith. The religion of the time was the Church of England. If they did practice their religion the punishment for their fate was very harsh - hanging - being drawn and quartered. The children were not spared. So the church went underground. How then do you teach your children the meaning of their faith? The Christmas carol which has survived to this day holds the key to the keeping of their faith and a way to successfully teach the children. It became popular and everyone was singing the words to this song. To unlock the code you have to know the meaning of the gifts.

In the Twelve Days of Christmas, the days were a simple mark of the time between Christ's birthday and Epiphany. They were nothing more. The meaning lies not in the days, but in the gifts.

On the first day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me,
A partridge in a pear tree

The single partridge in a pear tree equals courage and devotion. The mother partridge would lure away any enemies, often sacrificing her life for them - Jesus did the same for us. The pear tree symbolized the cross. The first gift given was the Christ child born on Christmas day.

On the second day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me
Two turtle doves

The two turtle doves equal both the Old and New testaments, while the doves were also symbols of truth and peace. Both reinforce the tie to Christ and Christmas.

On the third day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me
Three French hens

Today three French hens mean nothing, but in the 16th century they represented expensive food items received in the richest of homes - in truth, a meal fit for a king. The hens equal the expensive gifts brought by the wise men - gold, frankincense and myrrh.

On the fourth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Four calling birds

The four calling birds equal the authors of the gospels which told of Jesus and his life. In reality, the birds' names are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

On the fifth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me
Five golden rings

The five rings stood for the five Old Testament books that Christians knew as the "law of Moses" and Jews refer to as the "Torah" - to remind us of man's fall from grace due to sin and that Jesus came as a Savior to offer salvation and a path back to God.

On the sixth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me
Six geese a-laying

Six geese a-laying stand for the six days in which the Lord made the world, and just as eggs were the symbol of new life and creation, so the geese laying eggs represented the whole story of God moving his hand over the void to create life.

On the seventh day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me
Seven swans a-swimming

Paul's writing in Romans 12:6-8 speak of the "gifts of the Holy Spirit." The gifts are prophesy, service, teaching, encouraging, giving, leadership and mercy, and were linked to the lyrics' symbol of the swans. These birds are considered to be among the most graceful and beautiful fowl in England. Catholic children were thus taught that when you walked with God, the gifts of the Spirit moved in your life as easily as a swan on water.

On the eighth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me
Eight maids a-milking

This symbolizes the common man whom Christ had come to serve and save. In England at that time, the lowest job was working with cattle or in a barn. To be a female servant and used in this way indicated that she was of little worth to her master. Jesus came to serve all people, no matter their status, race, sex, or creed. The number eight equals the beatitudes, as found in Matthew 5:3-10: Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the hungry, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemaker and the righteous.

On the ninth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me
Nine ladies dancing

The nine ladies equal the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This dance taught the real joy and rewards of serving Christ.

On the tenth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me
Ten lords a-leaping

We find the symbol of the Ten Commandments in the ten lords a-leaping. They represent the ten laws God gave his people through Moses.

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me
Eleven pipers piping

There were twelve disciples, but one did not embrace Jesus' message - Judas. The number in this verse represents those who did.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me
Twelve drummers drumming

This final gift equals the Apostle's Creed. The drum is a symbol of the peace or rhythm that this creed gave each believer's daily walk with the Lord.

By the time Britain gave back to the Catholics the right to practice their faith, this song took on a life of its own. No one either knew of its hidden meanings or knew of how it was linked with the birth of Jesus. The song has been sung for 400 years with few knowing its powerful message. Perhaps the fun that masked its original intent is why, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" has survived for so long, as well as why the Catholic church survived oppression in merry old England.

posted by #Debi at 11:33 AM | permalink | 0 comments


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Hi, I'm Debi. Once in a while I have a thought and I like to write it down before it goes away. This is where I write it.

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