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The History of 'The Twelve Days of Christmas'
CNA ^ | Fr. Calvin Goodwin

Posted on 01/01/2019 2:19:46 PM PST by CondoleezzaProtege

The song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is an English Christmas carol. From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of the Church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember. To fit the number scheme, when you reach number 9, representing the Fruits of the Holy Ghost, the originator combined 6 to make 3, taking the 6 fruits that were similar: the fruit in each parenthesis is the that was not named separately. There are actually Twelve Fruits of the Holy Ghost.

The "True Love" one hears in the song is not a smitten boy or girlfriend but Jesus Christ, because truly Love was born on Christmas Day. The partridge in the pear tree also represents Him because that bird is willing to sacrifice its life if necessary to protect its young by feigning injury to draw away predators.

According to Ann Ball in her book, HANDBOOK OF CATHOLIC SACRAMENTALS:

The two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments

The three French hens stood for faith, hope, and love.

The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The five golden rings rerepresented the first five books of the Old Testament, which describe man's fall into sin and the great love of God in sending a Savior.

The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit-----Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit-----Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience [Forbearance], Goodness [Kindness], Mildness, Fidelity, Modesty, Continency [Chastity].

The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.

The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful Apostles.

The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in The Apostles' Creed.

TOPICS: Catholic; History; Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: advent; carols; christmas; epiphany; liturgy; newyear
For those continuing to observe Christmas in accordance with the liturgical calendar, ending with the Epiphany of the Magi on January 6th.
1 posted on 01/01/2019 2:19:46 PM PST by CondoleezzaProtege
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To: CondoleezzaProtege

Pretty sure this is an urban myth.

2 posted on 01/01/2019 2:31:30 PM PST by PlateOfShrimp
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To: CondoleezzaProtege

A fascinating insight into the years when English Kings prosecuted, tortured, and killed Catholics.

The US KKK felt the same toward Catholics.

3 posted on 01/01/2019 2:40:09 PM PST by Jacquerie (
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To: CondoleezzaProtege

The Beatitudes are eight blessings recounted by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. Each is a proverb-like proclamation, without narrative. Four of the blessings also appear in the Sermon on the Plain in the Gospel of Luke, followed by four woes which mirror the blessings.

4 posted on 01/01/2019 2:41:34 PM PST by Robert DeLong
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To: PlateOfShrimp

It’s an “Anon” coded message!

5 posted on 01/01/2019 2:41:59 PM PST by Flick Lives
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To: CondoleezzaProtege
The 12 points of belief in The Apostles' Creed:

Article 1: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. This affirms that God exists, that he’s a Triune God (one God in three persons, known as the Holy Trinity), and that he created the known universe.

Article 2: And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. This attests that Jesus is the Son of God and that he’s most certainly divine. The word Lord implies divinity, because the Greek Kyrios and the Hebrew Adonai both mean “lord” and are ascribed only to God. So the use of Lord with Jesus is meant to profess his divinity. The name Jesus comes from the Hebrew Jeshua, meaning “God saves.” So Catholics believe that Jesus is Savior.

Article 3: Who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. This affirms the human nature of Christ, meaning he had a real, true human mother, and also affirms his divine nature, meaning he had no human father but by the power of the Holy Spirit was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary. He’s therefore considered both God and man by Christians—fully divine and fully human.

Article 4: He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. The human nature of Christ could feel pain and actually die, and he did on Good Friday. The mention of Pontius Pilate by name wasn’t meant so much to vilify him forever in history but to place the Crucifixion within human history.

Reference is made to an actual historical person, the Roman governor of Judea, appointed by Caesar, to put the life and death of Jesus within a chronological and historical context. It also reminds the faithful that one can’t blame all Jews for the death of Jesus, as some have erroneously done over the ages. Certain Jewish leaders conspired against Jesus, but the actual death sentence was given by a Roman and carried out by Roman soldiers. So both Jew and Gentile alike shared in the spilling of innocent blood. Anti-Semitism based on the Crucifixion of Jesus is inaccurate, unjust, and erroneous.

Article 5: He descended into hell. The third day he arose again from the dead. The hell Jesus descended into wasn’t the hell of the damned, where Jews and Christians believe the devil and his demons reside. Hell was merely a word that Jews and early Christians used to describe the place of the dead. This passage affirms that on the third day he rose, meaning Jesus came back from the dead of his own divine power. He wasn’t just clinically dead for a few minutes; he was dead dead — then he rose from the dead. More than a resuscitated corpse, Jesus possessed a glorified and risen body.

Article 6: He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. The Ascension reminds the faithful that after the human and divine natures of Christ were united in the Incarnation, they could never be separated. In other words, after the saving death and Resurrection, Jesus didn’t dump his human body as if he didn’t need it anymore. Catholicism teaches that his human body will exist forever. Where Jesus went, body and soul, into heaven, the faithful hope one day to follow.

Article 7: He will come again to judge the living and the dead. This article affirms the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the world to be its judge. Judgment Day, Day of Reckoning, Doomsday—they’re all metaphors for the end of time when what’s known as the General Judgment will occur. Catholics believe that after the death of any human person, immediate private judgment occurs and the person goes directly to heaven, hell, or purgatory (an intermediate place in preparation for heaven).

Article 8: I believe in the Holy Spirit, This part reminds the believer that God exists in three persons — the Holy Trinity — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. What’s referred to as the Force in the movie Star Wars isn’t the same as the Holy Spirit, who is a distinct person equal to the other two — God the Father and God the Son.

Article 9: the holy catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, Catholics believe that the Church is more than a mere institution and certainly not a necessary evil. It’s an essential dimension and aspect of spiritual life. Christ explicitly uses the word church (ekklesia in Greek) in Matthew 16 when he says, “I will build My Church.”

Article 10: the forgiveness of sins, Christ came to save the world from sin. Belief in the forgiveness of sins is essential to Christianity. Catholicism believes sins are forgiven in Baptism and in the Sacrament of Penance.

Article 11: the resurrection of the body, From the Catholic perspective, a human being is a union of body and soul, so death is just the momentary separation of body and soul until the end of the world, the Second Coming of Christ, the General Judgment, and the resurrection of the dead. The just go, body and soul, into heaven, and the damned go, body and soul, into hell.

Article 12: And in life everlasting. As Christ Our Savior died, so, too, must mere mortals. As he rose, so shall all human beings. Death is the only way to cross from this life into the next. At the very moment of death, private judgment occurs; Christ judges the soul:

6 posted on 01/01/2019 2:51:36 PM PST by Robert DeLong
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To: CondoleezzaProtege

On This “Little Christmas”
January 6th

Once Upon a Time and not too long ago
The Twelfth Night Of Christmas
was celebrated with a ball
From the Day of Babes Birth
and the 11 thereafter
kith and kin were paid a visit
and friends from far and near
once were paid a call
So on this day I pray in the spirit that this date recalls
Let the gift of homage of kings gain
in the spirit of the days this season yet remain
ere it wane
Be thine Blessings Great
and misfortunes thee none befall

from my websites poetry page 1st book of Moses


7 posted on 01/01/2019 3:10:38 PM PST by mosesdapoet (mosesdapoet aka L,J,Keslin posting here for the record)
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To: CondoleezzaProtege

We refer to them as the Three Wise Guys.

8 posted on 01/01/2019 3:12:29 PM PST by SERKIT ("Blazing Saddles" explains it all.......)
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To: mosesdapoet

correction link is

9 posted on 01/01/2019 3:14:35 PM PST by mosesdapoet (mosesdapoet aka L,J,Keslin posting here for the record)
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To: CondoleezzaProtege
Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of the Church.

The lyrics were published in 1780 and the tune to which it is sung is from the twentieth century. I have seen no evidence that it is a catechism song for Catholics, but if it is, there's nothing in the "hidden" level of meaning that distinguishes Catholic beliefs from those of Protestants.

10 posted on 01/01/2019 3:15:49 PM PST by Fiji Hill
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To: PlateOfShrimp

11 posted on 01/01/2019 6:16:05 PM PST by lupie
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To: CondoleezzaProtege

I haven’t been able to listen to the song with a straight face since The Twelve Days of Clinton in the early 90s.

12 posted on 01/01/2019 6:26:32 PM PST by Gil4 (And the trees are all kept equal by hatchet, ax and saw)
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To: PlateOfShrimp; Flick Lives

Disbelieve it as you like. The anti-Christian secularists certainly do (but then, they disbelieve in Christ himself).

The fact is that this is ancient: from a time when many were not literate, and those that were did not have books. This piece was handed down by oral tradition before it was ever printed.

Even if the specific interpretations are not accurate, it is absurd to seriously argue that this is not heavily symbolic; it is reasonable to therefore consider that it was indeed a mnemonic device.

The arrogant, condescending skeptics, e.g., the leftist Snopes, scoff at the idea that this had anything to do with Christian persecution. Maybe, maybe not. The above explanation does not require persecution as a factor.

What is inarguably true, though, is that the colonization of North America, and establishment of the United States, had a great deal to do with Christian persecution; therefore, the Snopes types who assert that the whole Western world was Christian, and so persecution did not exist, are liars.

People who do not see something like this as obviously symbolic are mired in the tyranny of recency: We have secular media, including books, tapes, documenting everything now, including what some celebrity had for breakfast.

They had none of that - none of that - back then. Oral tradition relied upon stories, and melodies, and often employed symbolism, to make it both artistic and memorable. Music and song were both education and entertainment.

Do you seriously imagine that anyone - even a monarch - received ten leaping lords as any kind of gift? Without symbolism, the song is literally absurd - but it comes from a time when composing and performing such an absurdity, touching on the sacred subject of the birth of the Messiah, would have been considered unsalutary, if not actually blasphemous.

I have been in ministry in the past, so I am familiar with old hymns. I am also a sometime professional chorister who is very acquainted with Renaissance and Baroque choral literature. Symbolism is commonplace in such music, far more than in today’s literal and unpoetic world .

13 posted on 01/01/2019 7:38:24 PM PST by YogicCowboy ("I am not entirely on anyone's side, because no one is entirely on mine." - J. R. R. Tolkien)
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To: CondoleezzaProtege

Thank you for posting this.

The Catholic faith is so fascinating!

Like spring flowers unfolding and becoming more beautiful as each day passes new revelations can grant each of us new insights into the Love of Christ Jesus and those that sacrificed to pass the faith down to us through the ages.

Have a happy, blessed and prosporous new year.


14 posted on 01/01/2019 8:02:51 PM PST by infool7 (Observe, Orient, Pray, Decide, Act!(it's an OOPDA loop))
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To: CondoleezzaProtege

I have also read that this is a false interpretation and that it was just a party song.

15 posted on 01/02/2019 6:33:06 AM PST by quilterdebbie (We will endeavor to persevere!)
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