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Origin of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" [Underground Catechism]
http://www.cin.org/twelvday.html ^ | 12-26-03 | Courtesy of Catholic Information Network

Posted on 12/29/2003 10:00:50 AM PST by Salvation

On the first day .. 

ORIGIN OF
"THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS"

An Underground Catechism

You're all familiar with the Christmas song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" I think. To most it's a delightful nonsense rhyme set to music. But it had a quite serious purpose when it was written.

It is a good deal more than just a repetitious melody with pretty phrases and a list of strange gifts.

Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829, when Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England, were prohibited from ANY practice of their faith by law - private OR public. It was a crime to BE a Catholic.

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith - a memory aid, when to be caught with anything in *writing* indicating adherence to the Catholic faith could not only get you imprisoned, it could get you hanged, or shortened by a head - or hanged, drawn and quartered, a rather peculiar and ghastly punishment I'm not aware was ever practiced anywhere else. Hanging, drawing and quartering involved hanging a person by the neck until they had almost, but not quite, suffocated to death; then the party was taken down from the gallows, and disembowelled while still alive; and while the entrails were still lying on the street, where the executioners stomped all over them, the victim was tied to four large farm horses, and literally torn into five parts - one to each limb and the remaining torso.

The songs gifts are hidden meanings to the teachings of the faith. The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn't refer to an earthly suitor, it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge which feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, much in memory of the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so..."

The other symbols mean the following:

2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

--Fr. Hal Stockert  12/17/95

P.S. It has come to our attention that this tale is made up of both fact and fiction. Hopefully it will be accepted in the spirit it was written. As an encouragement to people to keep their faith alive, when it is easy, and when any outward expressions of their faith could mean their life. Today there are still people living under similar conditions, may this tale give them courage, and determination to use any creative means at their disposal to keep their faith alive.
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Sssh.......Quiet now.......Don't tell anyone!

I remember hearing this a long time ago, and I just now found the printed source! Hooray!


1 posted on 12/29/2003 10:00:51 AM PST by Salvation
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To: *Catholic_list; father_elijah; nickcarraway; SMEDLEYBUTLER; Siobhan; Lady In Blue; attagirl; ...
Catholic Discussion Ping!

Please notify me via Freepmail if you would like to be added to or removed from the Catholic Discussion Ping list.

2 posted on 12/29/2003 10:02:27 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
**The songs gifts are hidden meanings to the teachings of the faith. The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn't refer to an earthly suitor, it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.**

God
Jesus Christ
and
the sinner
3 posted on 12/29/2003 10:05:25 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
The Twelve Thank You Notes of Christmas
(Cajun Style)

 

 

Day 1
Dear Emile,
Thanks for da bird in the Pear tree. I fixed it las night with dirty rice an' it was delicious. I doan tink the Pear tree would grow in de swamp, so I swapped it for a Satsuma.

Day 2
Dear Emile,
Your letter said you sent 2 turtle dove, but all I got was 2 scrawny pigeon. Anyway, I mixed them with andouille and made some gumbo out of dem.

Day 3
Dear Emile,
Why doan you sen me some crawfish? I'm tired of eating dem darned bird. I gave two of those prissy French chicken to Mrs. Fontenot over at Grand Chenier, and fed the tird one to my dog, Phideaux. Mrs. Fontenot needed some sparring partners for her fighting rooster.

Day 4
Dear Emile,
Mon Dieux! I tole you no more of dem bird. Deez four, what you call "calling bird" wuz so noisy you could hear dem all da' way to Lafayette. I used they necks for my crab traps, and fed the rest of dem to the gators.

Day 5
Dear Emile,
You finally sent something useful. I liked dem golden rings, me. I hocked dem at da' pawn shop in Sulphur and got enough money to fix the shaft on my shrimp boat, and to buy a round for da boys at the Raisin' Cane Lounge. Merci Beaucoup!

Day 6
Dear Emile,
Couchon! Back to da birds, you big dumb turkey! Poor egg sucking Phideaux is scared to death ah dem six goose. He try to eat they eggs and they pecked the heck out ah his snout. Dem goose are dang good at eating cockroach around da' house, though. I may stuff one ah dem goose with erster dressing to serve him on Christmas Day.

Day 7
Dear Emile,
I'm gonna wring your fool neck next time I see you. Ole Boudreaux, da mailman, is ready to kill you, too. The poop from all dem bird is stinkin up his mailboat. He afraid someone will slip on dat stuff and gonna sue him. I let dem seven swan loose to swim on da bayou and some stupid duck hunter from Mississippi done blasted dem out da water. Talk to you tomorrow.

Day 8
Dear Emile,
Poor ole Boudreaux had to make 3 trips on his mailboat to deliver dem 8 maids-a-milking & der cows. One of dem cows got spooked by da alligators and almost tipped over da boat. I doan like dem shiftless maids, me. I told dem to get to work gutting fish and sweeping my shack--but dey say it wasn't in their contract. They probably tink they too good to skin all dem nutria I caught las night.

Day 9
Dear Emile,
What you trying to do? Boudreaux had to borrow da Cameron Ferry to carry these jumping twits you call lords-a-leaping across da bayou. As soon as dey got here dey wanted a tea break and crumpets. I doan know what dat means but I says, "Well la di da. You get Chicory coffee or nuthin." Mon Dieux, Emile, what I'm gonna feed all these bozos? They too snooty for fried nutria, and da cow ate up all my turnip green.

Day 10
Dear Emile,
You got to be out of you mind. If da mailman don't kill you, I will. Today he deliver 10 half nekkid floozies from Bourbon Street. Dey said they be "ladies dancing" but they doan act like ladies in front of dem Limey sailing boys. Dey almost left after one of them got bit by a water moccasin over by my out- house. I had to butcher 2 cows to feed toute le monde (everybody) and get toilet paper rolls. The Sears catalog wasn't good enough for dem hoity toity lords. Talk at you tomorrow.

Day 11
Dear Emile,
Where Y'at? Cherio and pip pip. You 11 Pipers Piping arrived today from the House of Blues, second lining as dey got off da boat. We fixed stuffed goose and beef jumbalaya, finished da whiskey, and we're having a fais-do-do. Da' new mailman drank a bottle of Jack Daniel, and he's having a good old time dancing with the floozies. Da' old mailman done jump off the Moss Bluff Bridge yesterday, screaming you name. If you happen to get a mysterious-looking, ticking package in da mail, don't open it.

Day 12
Dear Emile,
Me I'm sorry to tell you--but I am not your true love anymore. After the fais-do-do, I talked all  da night with Jacque, the head piper. We decide to open a restaurant and gentlemen's club on the bayou. The floozies--pardon me--ladies dancing can make $20 un hour for dancin', and the lords can be the waiters and valet park da boats. Since da' maids have no more cows to milk, I trained dem to set my crab traps, watch my trotlines, and run my shrimping business. We'll probably gross a million dollars next year.

Joyeaux Noel et Bonne Annee!


4 posted on 12/29/2003 10:07:06 AM PST by drstevej
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To: Salvation
"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith

This pops up every year. The funny thing is, the so-called hidden meanings (with the possible exception of one of the two seven meanings) are not uniquely Catholic. The English reformers who outlawed Catholicism embraced every one of the "hidden" doctrines.

5 posted on 12/29/2003 10:24:00 AM PST by trad_anglican
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To: drstevej
LOL!
6 posted on 12/29/2003 10:25:25 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: trad_anglican
**The English reformers who outlawed Catholicism embraced every one of the "hidden" doctrines.**

I am aware of this. Unfortunately this part of English history turned out to be a very unhappy one for both the Church of England, the Anglicans, as well as the Catholics.

Praises that we have come so much closer!

7 posted on 12/29/2003 10:27:02 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
Praises that we have come so much closer!

And prayers that we may become more so!

8 posted on 12/29/2003 10:31:18 AM PST by trad_anglican
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To: trad_anglican; Salvation
***Praises that we have come so much closer!***
***And prayers that we may become more so!***

Perhaps, you two groups need to get a room?
9 posted on 12/29/2003 10:33:31 AM PST by drstevej
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To: drstevej
Please join us! LOL!
10 posted on 12/29/2003 10:47:37 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation; drstevej
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

12 points. I suspect this may make certain friends of ours with 5 points a little jealous. lol

11 posted on 12/29/2003 10:47:59 AM PST by NeoCaveman (lost tagline, reward offered for its return)
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To: drstevej
**Perhaps, you two groups need to get a room?**

Do you have an active sense of humor this morning or what?

LOL!
12 posted on 12/29/2003 10:49:17 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: dubyaismypresident
12 points = 2 calvinists and 1 arminian
13 posted on 12/29/2003 10:55:05 AM PST by drstevej
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To: Salvation; 2ndMostConservativeBrdMember; afraidfortherepublic; Alas; al_c; american colleen; ...
I remember hearing this a long time ago, and I just now found the printed source! Hooray>>

Me too, not too long ago though, maybe about 5 yrs. ago I read it in a letter to the editor and thanks to you and the FR I now know where to find it for a refresher.
14 posted on 12/29/2003 4:58:58 PM PST by Coleus (Merry Christmas, Jesus is the Reason for the Season, Keep Christ in CHRISTmas and the X's out of it.)
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To: Coleus
**maybe about 5 yrs. ago I read it in a letter to the editor and thanks to you and the FR I now know where to find it for a refresher.**

Google is wonderful isn't it?
15 posted on 12/29/2003 5:00:48 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: drstevej
LOL!! I love that one. My brother sent it to me one year!

I found a book over twenty years ago in a Tampa bookstore called "The Cajun Night before Christmas" in which Santa arrived in a pirogue pulled by eight ALLIGATOR!! I didn't buy it, and later kicked myself for not having done so. A couple of years ago, I was in a bookstore in Ocean Springs MS in JUNE and found the book on the shelves. My sister wondered why I was screaming for joy! Needless to say I bought it, and it has joined the pantheon of Christmas books at my house!

16 posted on 12/29/2003 6:30:16 PM PST by SuziQ
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To: Coleus
Thanks for the ping!
17 posted on 12/29/2003 9:02:41 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: SuziQ
There's also the Cowboy Night Before Christmas, A Southern Time Christmas and An Irish Night Before Christmas. Different authors but all illustrated by James Rice. There are probably more but these are the ones I own. They're so much fun for my kids to compare and contrast! Lots of great lessons from these books if there are any home schoolers reading this!
18 posted on 12/30/2003 1:52:54 PM PST by samiam1972 (Live simply so that others may simply live!)
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To: SuziQ
Day 5 -- 5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
19 posted on 12/30/2003 1:58:59 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
On the sixth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me: six geese
a-laying.
The six geese laying eggs represent the Lord and the six days of
creation. Like six pure white eggs, God spent six days creating pure
and perfect existence.
20 posted on 12/31/2003 9:19:36 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
I'm so glad you found this, posted it, and pinged me to it! Thank you.

Midday Connection, of Moody Broadcasting, interviewed Ace Collins, author of Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas, last Wedsnesday. As the website archive says, "Ace talked with listeners about the history of Christmas trees, poinsettias, mistletoe, the Twelve Days of Christmas, Santa Claus, and other loved traditions surrounding the celebration of Jesus’ birth."

Ace mentioned only that the 10 lords a'leaping represented God's Ten Commandments, none of the other symbolisms. I was eager to find out more about the song's origin and history, but unable to order Ace's book. Here is a link to his site, in case anyone else is interested in the wonderful research he's done: Ace Collins

God bless your new year with His peace in every circumstance.

21 posted on 12/31/2003 12:19:23 PM PST by .30Carbine
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To: .30Carbine
Happy New Year 30!!!
22 posted on 12/31/2003 12:22:18 PM PST by NeoCaveman (Happy New Year)
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To: dubyaismypresident
Hello you gorgeous hunk of manhood....I DID get my husband's permission to say that!

(He's standing right over my left shoulder.) LOLuv!

23 posted on 12/31/2003 12:35:52 PM PST by .30Carbine
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To: dubyaismypresident
And happiest of new year's right back!
24 posted on 12/31/2003 12:36:26 PM PST by .30Carbine
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To: .30Carbine; TigersEye
Hello you gorgeous hunk of manhood....I DID get my husband's permission to say that!

You could be my PR agent :-) Happy New Years to your hubby too. Hope it brings you two all the best.

25 posted on 12/31/2003 12:38:44 PM PST by NeoCaveman (Happy New Year)
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To: .30Carbine
You are welcome, 30!

Here is some more information about today:

On the seventh day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me: seven
swans a-swimming.
This symbol represents the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. "Wisdom,
understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the
Lord complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them.
They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations."
(CCC 1831)

26 posted on 01/01/2004 8:48:50 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: .30Carbine
Also the number seven is said to stand for the seven sacraments.

BTW -- this information is available on Catholic Information Network -- see the banner at the top of the post.
27 posted on 01/01/2004 8:50:23 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All

On the eighth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me, eight
maids a-milking.
The eight maids milking represent the eight beatitudes listed in Mt
5:3-10. These are listed in a different manner in Lk 6:20-23.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
28 posted on 01/02/2004 8:34:38 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
On the ninth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me, nine ladies
dancing.
This verse is a reference to the nine fruits of the Spirit listed in Gal
5:22-23. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."
29 posted on 01/03/2004 8:13:02 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
On the tenth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me, ten lords
a-leaping.
These ten lords represent the Ten Commandments, also known as
the Decalogue, and are handed on to us in the books of Exodus and
Deuteronomy.
In the book of Exodus, the Commandments are found at Ex 20:1-17.
I the LORD am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.
You shall have no other gods besides me.
You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain.
Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.
Honor your father and your mother.
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbors house, nor anything else that
belongs to him. (abridged, from Ex 20:1-17)
30 posted on 01/04/2004 6:48:37 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
On the eleventh day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, eleven
pipers piping.
The eleven pipers represent the eleven original Apostles who
remained faithful to Jesus.
These Apostles are Andrew, Bartholomew, James the Greater,
James the Lesser, John, Jude, Matthew, Thomas, Philip, Simon and
Peter. Although Peter denied Jesus before the Crucifixion, he is
included in this list because he repented of his mistake.
31 posted on 01/05/2004 9:52:57 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me, twelve
drummers drumming.
The twelve drummers represent the twelve precepts of the Faith
presented in the Apostle's Creed. The translation of the Creed given
in the Catechism is given below.
1. I believe in God, the father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
2. I believe in Jesus Christ his only son, our Lord.
3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the
Virgin Mary.
4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.
5. He descended into hell.
6. On the third day he rose again.
7. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
9. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
10. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
11. the holy catholic Church, the communion
of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
12. the resurrection of the body, and
the life everlasting.
Amen
32 posted on 01/06/2004 10:38:42 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/12days.asp
Urban Legends Reference Pages

Claim: The song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was created as a coded reference to important articles of the Christian / Catholic faith.

Status: False.

33 posted on 04/29/2004 8:10:25 PM PDT by Dajjal
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