One of my favorite Christmas carols of all time: "The Twelve Days of Christmas."
I've sung it all kinds of ways--at all kinds of parties--for all kinds of ice-breakers--on hay-rides and at front doors and in the car riding down the highway to pass the time.
It never has made sense to me. I was always confused by the end of the first line and it continued from there: "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree."
'Scuse me? THAT would be a dud gift in the game of Dirty Santa, for sure!
A few years ago, however, I came across some information that explained the song. Some people say there is no evidence to support this information, but the consensus is that it is accurate.
In England in the Middle Ages, there was much persecution of Christians going on during the so-called "religious wars." So, in order to teach their children basic principals of their faith, this Christmas song was written which had a very different meaning from the actual words. Basically, it was written "in code."
According to history, there was a meaning behind each of the gifts. Read on...
Day 1: A partridge in a pear tree symbolized the gift of Jesus Christ to the world (Luke 13:34)
Day 2: Two turtle doves represented the Old and New Testaments
Day 3: Three French hens represented faith, hope, and love (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Day 4: Four calling birds symbolized the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
Day 5: Five gold rings were the five books of the Penteteuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy
Day 6: Six geese a-laying represented the six days of creation in Genesis 1
Day 7: Seven swans a-swimming symbolized the seven gifts of the Spirit:
Day 8: Eight maids-a-milking represented the eight Beatitudes in Matthew 5
Day 9: Nine ladies dancing symbolized the nine parts of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5
Day 10: Ten lords-a-leaping recalled the ten commandments in Exodus 20
Day 11: Eleven pipers piping symbolized the eleven faithful disciples in Luke 6
Day 12: Twelve drummers drumming helped them remember the twelve points of the Apostle's Creed of the Church.
It sort of makes me pause and think of the persecution involved in the creation of the song that I have ridiculed more than any other at Christmas.
And I sing it with just a little bit more appreciation for the partridge...