The Twelve Days of Christmas

    From 1558 until 1829 the Catholics of England (and occupied Ireland and Scotland) were forbidden by law to practice their Faith. Those who were caught were fined for openly doing so, and imprisoned when they could not pay the fines. Priests who were caught administering the sacraments were often put to death, otherwise they were immediately imprisoned. As a result of this ban, the ingenious Catholics devised secretive and symbolic songs to teach their children the truths of the outlawed Catholic Religion. One of the most successful and beautiful of these was the Christmas carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas."
    "The Twelve Days" stand for the proper Christmas season -December 25th to January 6th (Epiphany). The song begins thusly:
    "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree." The "True Love" in the carol is God Himself, who gives Christians special gifts on each of the twelve days.

   1. The first gift is a "partridge in a pear tree." The bird stands for Christ our Lord, Who gathers His followers under His wings. In nature the partridge protect its young from birds of prey often by feigning death so as to draw the attacker away from the young, similar to how Our Lord died to save us from our sins. The tree harkens back to the tree of Paradise (the Tree of Life), which Adam lost by sin and Christ restored on the new Tree of Life - the Cross. God's first gift, therefore, is His very own Son - Our Lord Jesus and new life in Him.

   2. "Two Turtle Doves" is the second gift. The doves represent the sacrifice which the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph made at the Temple upon the birth of their Son (in accordance with the Old Law). Our sacrifice is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the very sacrifice of Christ on the Cross made present to us here and now. The number two represents the two Covenants or Testaments: the Old and the New.

   3. "Three French Hens" symbolize the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity; gifts from God infused into our souls at our Baptisms.

   4. "Four Calling Birds" is symbolic of the four Evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) whose four Gospels call us all to do penance, and to believe in and obey Christ as Lord and Savior.

   5. "Five Golden Rings" is symbolic of the first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah, which Christ came to fulfill and complete.

   6. "Six Geese a-laying" symbolize Godís handy-work of creation in six days; reminding us of His omnipotence and our absolute dependence upon Him.

   7. "Seven Swans a-swimming" reminds us of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit as God revealed in Isaiah (wisdom, knowledge, understanding, council, fortitude, piety, and holy fear of the Lord); also can represent the seven holy Sacraments.

   8. "Eight Maids a-milking" represents the eight Beatitudes (Matthew 5) that are the moral nourishment of Christians.

   9. "Nine Ladies Dancing" can represent either the nine choirs of angels or the nine fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5).

   10. "Ten Lords a-leaping" signifies the Ten Commandments.

   11. "Eleven Pipers Piping" represents the eleven faithful Apostles proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ to the World.

   12. "Twelve Drummers Drumming" represents the twelve Articles of Faith of the Apostles Creed, which reads as follows:

   1: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;
   2: And in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord;
   3: Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary;
   4: He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and buried;
   5: He descended into hell, on the third day He rose again from the dead;
   6: He ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
   7: From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead;
   8: I believe in the Holy Ghost;
   9: In the Holy Catholic Church, and the Communion of Saints;
   10: The Forgiveness of sins;
   11: The resurrection of the body;
   12: And life everlasting.

   So, teach your children what this song really means, and then, sing along and spread the Faith!

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