Don’t forget—Christmas isn’t over yet! In fact, we’re still within ‘the twelve days.’
During the 271 years between 1558 and 1829, Catholics were not allowed to practice their religion in England, so someone wrote a song with double meanings. It was meant to teach catechism but is still sung as an English Christmas carol.
What follows are the meanings:
My True Love = Jesus Christ, because Christ, who loves us in spite of our faults, was born Christmas Day.
The Partridge = Jesus, because the partridge would give his life to protect his nest.
Two Turtle Doves = Old & New Testaments
Three French Hens = faith, hope and charity
Four Calling Birds = 4 Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
Five Golden Rings = 5 books of the Old Testament describing sin and the love of God sending us the Savior
Six Geese a-laying = 6 days of creation
Seven Swans a-swimming = gifts of the Holy Spirit
Eight Maids a-milking = the Beatitudes
Nine Ladies Dancing = 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit
Ten Lords a-leaping = the 10 Commandments
Eleven Pipers Piping = stand for the 11 faithful apostles
Twelve Drummers Drumming = the 12 points of belief in the Apostles Creed.
(from Handbook of Catholic Sacramentals by Ann Ball)
~Article by Betty Canavan