Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Story Behind The Song- The Real 12 Days of Christmas by Helen Haidle

In the 16th century, England proclaimed an official state church, and any other religious teaching was strictly forbidden.  So for the next three centuries, those who refused to join the state church developed creative ways to teach children their beliefs.  One popular method was to use lyrics and song. In the book, you will descover the secret Christian symbols concealed in the familiar carol, "The Twelve Days of Christmas."  This cheerful song, about a generous benefactor who lived to give, could be freely sung without ever using God's name, because "my ture love" refers to God.

The First Day
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.
The first gift of this Christmas song is a partridge, a small bird similar to a qual or a grouse.  The original gift of Christma is Jesus, sent to earth from God.  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son." John 3:16  The partridge was known as a valiant bird, willing to fight to death in order to defend its young.  This bird's readiness to die for its young made it an ancient Christian symbol of Christ.  The pear tree represents the cross.
"I am the good shephard...I lay down my life for the sheep. " John 10:14-15

The Socond Day
On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me two turtledoves.  
For hundreds of years, Jewish families used turtledoves as offerings to God.  The gift of two turtledoves is a reminder of the sacrifice offered for Jesus by Mary and Joseph.  When Jesus was forty days old, they took him to the temple in Jerusalem.  they brought a sacrifice of two turtledoves as was required by the law.  
"Joseph and Mayr took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord...and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: 'a pair of doves or two young pigeons.'" 
 Luke 2:22,24

The Third Day
On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me three French hens.
French hens were valuable poultry during the sixteenth century - only the rich could afford them.  These costly birds symbolized the three valuable gifts given to Jesus by the wise men: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Gold was the most precious of all metals.  Frankincense and myrrh were expensive spices used as incense and for burials.
"When they [wise men] saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child...and they bowed down and worshiped him.  Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts and of incense and of myrrh." Matthew 2:10-11

The Fourth Day
On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four calling birds.
The four calling birds are reminders of the four Gospel writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  These writers of the first four books of the New Testament proclaimed the testimony of Jesus' life and teachings.  Like birds calling out with loud and distinctive voices, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John spread abroad the news of Jesus' life, death, and ressurrection.  They called people to faith in Jesus as their Savior.
"Jesus did many other miraculous signs...which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus in the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."  John 20:30-31

The fifth Day 
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me five golden rings.
Gold rings are among the most valuable and treasured of all gifts.  The five golden rings represent the first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  These books, known to the Jews as the Torah, were treated with great reverence and considered to be worth more than gold.  In these books, Moses, the commonly accepted author, records the creation story and the beginning history of the people of Isreal.
"No prophet has fisen in Isreal like Moses, whim the Lord knew face to face...for no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awsome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Isreal.'  Deuteronomy 34:10,12

The Sixth Day
On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me six geese a-laying.  
In many cultures, eggs symbolize new life.  Six geese laying eggs became reminders of the six days of creation when God, by his Word, brought forth life on earth.  God spoke and filled the earth with plants, birds, animals, and people during the first six days of creation, as found in chapter one of the book of Genesis.
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.  And there was evening and there was morning ~ the sixth day."  Genesis 1:1,31

The Seventh Day
On the seventh day of Christmas my true olve gave to me seven swans a-swimming. 
Seven swans symbolize the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Just as baby swans grow and change from "ugly ducklings" into beautiful and graceful birds, so God's children grow and change through the work of the Holy Spirit.  The various gifts fo the Holy Spirit are distributed for the benefit of the entire body of Christ.
"We have different gifts, according to the grace given to us.  If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."  Romans 12:6-8

The Eighth Day
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me eight maids a-milking.
The eight milking maidens represents eight unique teaching of Jesus sometimes called the Beatitudes.  These words of Jesus, from his Sermon on the Mount, nurture and strengthen us much the way milk nurishes a child.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit...
Blessed are those who mourn... Blessed are the meek...
Blessed are those hunger and thirst for righteousness...
Blessed are the merciful...Blessed are the pure in heart...
Blessed are the peacemakers...Blessed are those who are persicuted bucause of righteousness."  Matthew 5:3-12

The Ninth Day
On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me nine ladies dancing.
The nine ladies remind us of the nine different fruits tha the Holy Spirit produces in the lives of God's children.  Just as these ladies dance joyfully, so can every Christian rejoice over the life-changing fruit of the Holy Spirit.  Gifts like love and joy and peace are worthy of great celebration.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."
Galatians 5:22-23

The Tenth Day
On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ten lords a-leaping.
Lords were men with authority to command people's obedience.  Ten lords a-leaping symbolize God's ten basic laws, otherwise known as the Ten Commandments.
"You shall have no other gods.  You shall not make and bow to any carved images.  You shall not take the name of the Lord you God in vain.  Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.  Honor you father and your mother.  You shall not murder.  You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal.  You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.  You shall not covet your neighbor's things."  Exodus 20:3-17 (parapharase)

The Eleventh Day
On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me eleven pipers piping.
Eleven pipers represent the eleven apostles who were chosen by Jesus and remained faithful to him.  (There were twelve before the betrayal and suicide of Judas).  Like children joyfully following a piper, these disciples followed Jesus.  They also called others to follow him.  They piped an everlasting tune of great joy - the salvation message of Jesus' resurrection from the dead.
"These are the twelve [Jesus] appointed: Simon ( to whom he have the name peter); James son of Zebedee and his brother John... Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Mark 3:16-19

The Twelth Day
On the twelth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me twelve drummers drumming.
Just as drummers beat out a loud, steady rhythem for marchers to follow, so the Apostle's Creed sets forth the beliefs of those who call themselves Christians.  The twelve drummmers represent the twelve vital Christian beliefs as stated in the Apostle's Creed.
"I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.  I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.   He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended into hell; the third day he rose from the dead.  He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father.  He shall return to judge both the living and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the ressurrection of the body, and the life everlasting."


  1. That is really neat! Thank you for sharing, I don't remember reading that before!

    Thank you for visiting me too!