Fun_People Archive
12 Dec
Those 12 Days!

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 100 18:59:08 -0800
To: Fun_People
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Subject: Those 12 Days!

X-Lib-of-Cong-ISSN: 1098-7649  -=[ Fun_People ]=-
Forwarded-by: Bob Stein <>
Forwarded-by: Barbara Greenberg and Daniel Beerbohm <>

	Those 12 Days!

There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me.  What in the world
do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge
who won't come our of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?

Today, I found out at a women's luncheon at church.  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 their church.  Each element in
the carol has a code word for a religious reality, which the children could

The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

Three French hens stood for faith, hope, and love.

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

The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of
the Old Testament.

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--Love, Joy,
Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and self

The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.

The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

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

So there is your history for today. This knowledge was shared with me and
I found it interesting and enlightening and now I know how that strange
song became a Christmas Carol.

Happy Holidays!

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