Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day One

I have always been intrigued by the 'twelve days of Christmas' and like many - didn't really know what they referred to. These days I am increasingly aware that folk think they are the last twelve days leading up to Christmas Day and of course, this is wrong.

The twelve days begin, as I understand it, on Christmas day and end when the Magi (three kings or three wise men) come into the presence of the infant Jesus (symbolic of Jesus, the Christ, becoming made known to the non-believing world*) on the feast of Epiphany (5th January).

Many people have told me that the words of the 'twelve days' song have hidden meaning (but don't so many of the old nursery rhymes as they deal with catholicism, the plague and the like?) but everything I've found seem to indicate that this is perhaps an extended myth or the 'urban' kind - That said the explanations out there are wild, weird and varied. Here's a compliation of the most consistent view of them:

Partridge in a pear tree         Jesus Christ

Two turtle doves                     Old and New Testaments

Three French Hens                 Faith, hope, love (1 Cor 13) or the Trinity

Four Calling birds                 The Four Gospels or four Evangelists

Five Golden Rings                  The Pentateuch (Genesis to Deuteronomy)

Six geese a laying                    Six days of creation

Seven Swans a swimming      Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Eight maids a-milking           Eight Beatitudes

Nine Ladies Dancing              Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit

Ten Lords a-leaping               Ten Commandments

Eleven pipers piping              Eleven faithful disciples

12 drummers drumming       Twelve articles of the Apostles Creed

Like the old man 'who wouldn't say his prayer' the song apparently has origins in the Catholic persecution and is a way of remembering the catechism in a safe manner. Regardless  - it's a fun song, isn't it?

And here we are at Day one: All about Jesus - innit? 

* The shepherds were Jews and they represent Jesus being revealed to the people of faith.
The Magi, being non-Jews, represent Jesus being revealed to the heathen (meaning non-Jewish)

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