Blog Template Theology of the Body: The Days of Christmas

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Days of Christmas

From our contributor NCCatholic:

"The Twelve Days of Christmas:" this 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 out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas? Recently, I found out.

From 1558 until 1829, 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 tenet of the faith which children could remember.

- The partridge in a pear tree: Jesus Christ.

- Two turtle doves: the Old and New Testaments.

- Three French hens: the theological virtues of faith, hope and love.

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

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

- The six geese a-laying: the six days of creation.

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

- The eight maids a-milking: the eight beatitudes.

- Nine ladies dancing: the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control.

- The ten lords a-leaping: the ten commandments.

- The eleven pipers piping: the eleven faithful disciples.

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