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Frontline Faith: Twelve Days of Christmas

Jessica Kuznicki, Copy Editor

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By Jessica Kuznicki

Everyone has heard of the popular nonsense song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” But what if the lyrics mean more than what you think?

Each day in the song has a Biblical meaning. Some people believe the song was written as a way for Christians to remember key doctrine of their faith but there is no proof that’s where the song originated. Others believe it is like the legend of the candy cane in that it was written in code for persecuted Christians. The history of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is surrounded by myth and legend, no one is sure of where it came from. Either way, it can be a useful reminder to Christians this Christmas season.

The true love in the song refers not to an earthly lover but instead God. This is symbolic of how in the Bible Christians are called the bride of Christ because He loves us enough to die for us. The twelve days of Christmas are actually celebrated after Advent. Advent means the hopeful waiting time before Christmas when we are waiting for Christ to come. The real twelve days of Christmas are celebrated after Christmas starting Christmas night. The song starts with a with God’s greatest gift to us on Christmas, Jesus, and all the other gifts stem from Him.

  • A Partridge in a pear tree = Jesus died on cross which was a tree. Jesus symbolized as a mother partridge who feigns illness/weakened state to save beloved children from predators.
  • Two turtle doves = Old and New Testament
  • Three French hens = Faith, Hope, Love (see 1 Corinthians 13:13)
  • Four calling birds = Four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke John, that sing the song of salvation calling Jesus Lord.
  • Five golden rings = First five books of the Bible, Genesis,  Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy a.k.a. Books of Moses, Torah or the Pentateuch.
  • Six geese a laying = Six days of creation. Remember, God rested on the seventh day
  • Seven swans a swimming = Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit found in I Corinthians 12:8-11; Romans 12, Ephesians 4; I Peter 4:10-11
  1. Prophecy
  2. Ministry
  3. Teaching
  4. Exhortation
  5. Giving
  6. Leading
  7. Compassion
  • Eight maids a milking = Eight Beatitudes from Jesus’s sermon in the mount in Matthew 5:3-10.

Blessed are:

  1. The poor in spirit
  2. Those who mourn
  3. The meek
  4. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
  5. The merciful
  6. The pure in heart
  7. The peacemakers
  8. Those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake
  • Nine ladies dancing = Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit in Paul’s letter to the Galatia church in Galatians 5:22 & 23
  1. Love
  2. Joy
  3. Peace
  4. Patience
  5. Kindness
  6. Generosity
  7. Faithfulness
  8. Gentleness
  9. Self-control
  • Ten Lords a leaping= Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17
  1. You shall have no other gods before me
  2. Do not make an idol
  3. Do not take God’s name in vain
  4. Remember the Sabbath Day
  5. Honor your father and mother
  6. Do not murder
  7. Do not commit adultery
  8. Do not steal
  9. Do not bear false witness
  10. Do not covet.
  • Eleven pipers piping= Eleven faithful disciples, notice how the list does not include Judas Iscariot, the guy who betrayed Jesus.
  1. Simon Peter
  2. Andrew
  3. James
  4. John
  5. Philip
  6. Bartholomew
  7. Matthew
  8. Thomas
  9. James bar Alphaeus
  10. Simon the Zealot
  11. Judas bar James
  • Twelve drummers drumming= Twelve points of the Apostle’s Creed
  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. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
  7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
  8. I believe in the Holy Spirit
  9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints
  10. the forgiveness of sins,
  11. the resurrection of the body,
  12. and life everlasting.
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Frontline Faith: Twelve Days of Christmas