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Were you aware of the symbolism behind the the song, Twelve Days of Christmas?

It is hard to remember the last time I haven’t heard the Twelve Days of Christmas played and sung at least a few times in the days leading up to Christmas day. However, were you aware of the symbolism that this song contains, throughout the words?

The partridge in a pear tree stands for Christ Jesus.

Two turtle doves are the Old and New Testaments.

Three French hens refer to Faith, Hope, and Love.

The four calling birds are the four gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The five golden rings are the first 5 books of the bible, the Torah.

Six geese a-laying references the 6 days of creation.

Seven swans a-swimming stands for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

Eight maids a-milking are the eight beatitudes.

Nine ladies dancing are the 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit; Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.

Ten lords a-leaping are the 10 commandments.

Eleven pipers piping are the eleven faithful disciples.

Twelve Drummers drumming refer to the 12 points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed. This song isn’t just sung at Christmas, It is about the bible and Jesus.

This song was first published in Britain in 1780. In case there is anyone who doesn’t know the words, the lyrics are contained in the image. Incidentally, “the My true love” that sent these gifts is God. Also, the 12 days of Christmas is Yule and it begins on Christmas day, it doesn’t end on that day.

  • Did you know what the words of the song were referencing?

    • Yes
    • No
    • I’ve never heard the song

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Written by Rex Trulove

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2 Comments

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    • Exactly, and like most Christmas Carols, it is filled with meaning. The meaning behind the song has actually been known since the late 1700s, not long after it was published, but through the years, most people forgot what the meaning was. That is understandable and it has happened with a lot more things than just music.

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