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
Eight maids a milking = Eight Beatitudes from Jesus’s sermon in the mount in Matthew 5:3-10.
The poor in spirit
Those who mourn
Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
The pure in heart
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
Ten Lords a leaping= Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17
You shall have no other gods before me
Do not make an idol
Do not take God’s name in vain
Remember the Sabbath Day
Honor your father and mother
Do not murder
Do not commit adultery
Do not steal
Do not bear false witness
Do not covet.
Eleven pipers piping= Eleven faithful disciples, notice how the list does not include Judas Iscariot, the guy who betrayed Jesus.
James bar Alphaeus
Simon the Zealot
Judas bar James
Twelve drummers drumming= Twelve points of the Apostle’s Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit
the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.