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“The Twelve Days of Christmas”

Have you ever wondered about the origin of certain Christmas songs? I love the satellite radio “Holly” station! It has everything from traditional to revamped to kid-friendly Christmas tunes. The classic “The Twelve Days of Christmas” song was playing on the radio, and I couldn’t help but giggle at all the renditions and the repetitiveness of the song. In my experience, people either tolerate this song or need to change the channel. Then, these questions came to mind: Who wrote this song? When? How many variations are there? Surely, there is a Christian viewpoint on “The Twelve Days of Christmas”? Thanks to the internet and my iPhone, I had all those answers quickly at my fingertips.

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” was initially a chant or rhyme without any music. The best-known English version was first in print in 1780 as a children’s book. The song was published first in England but is thought to be French in origin. The well-known Christmas carol we sing now was derived from a 1909 arrangement of a traditional folk melody by English composer Frederick Austin. The “Twelve Days” start with day one being Christmas Day and end on January 6. The song is classified as a cumulative song, as each verse is built upon the previous verse. (I’m not getting all fancy here in references; I learned all the above information on Wikipedia!)

After my lengthy Wikipedia read, I typed into Google, “Christian take on 12 days of Christmas.” I found the website, where John Z. Gardiner had submitted an article called “The Meaning Behind the Twelve Days of Christmas.” The date noted is December 3, 1999, but despite this submission being almost 20 years old, I still found the information very interesting! The submission read as follows:

The Meaning Behind the 12 Days of Christmas

A Spiritual Archives Story from; The Meaning Behind the 12 Days of Christmas: Submitted 3 Dec 1999 by: John Z Gardiner

“Hi All, this was sent to me today, it ties into the discussion of the meaning of various hymns and carols. -John Z. Gardiner

The Twelve Days of Christmas. –The Rest of the Story

When most people hear of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” they think of the song. The songs has its origins as a teaching tool to instruct young people in the meaning and content of the Christian faith.

Each of the items in the song represents something of religious significance. The hidden meaning of each gift was designed to help young Christians learn their faith. The song goes, “On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…”

The “true love” represents God and the “me” who receives the presents is the Christian. Here you go:

The “partridge in a pear tree” was Jesus Christ who died on a tree as a gift from God.

The “two turtle doves” were the Old and New Testaments- another gift from God.

The “three French hens” were faith, hope and love, the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (1 Corinthians 13).

The “four calling birds” were the four Gospels which sing the songs of salvation through Jesus Christ.

The “five golden rings” were the first five books of the Bible also called the “Books of Moses”.

The “six geese a-laying” were the six days of creation.

The “seven swans a swimming” were the “seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:8-11; Romans 12; Ephesians 4: 1 Peter 4:10-11)

The “eight maids a milking” were the eight beatitudes.

The “nine ladies dancing” were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22 & 23)

The “ten lords a-leaping” were the Ten Commandments.

The “eleven pipers piping” were the eleven faithful disciples.

The “twelve drummers drumming” were the twelve points of the Apostles’ Creed.

So, the next time you hear ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, consider how this otherwise non-religious sounding song had its origins in the Christian faith.”

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the religious significance that can easily be tied into this song! I must admit, after hearing this carol a few times in the Christmas season, I was most likely to swap the channel. Now, I can try to play a game of remembrance when I hear this tune! I love how, if we keep our hearts open, we can see and feel God everywhere! Even in a simple song. I hope you learned something new after reading this excerpt; I know I did!

As we enter the season of Christmas, The Salty Sunshine is praying our readers enjoy time spent with families, building on those relationships and their relationship with Jesus Christ. To celebrate along with you, we decided to host some “getting to know us” (the women of the Salty Sunshine) posts. We are taking a quick break from the traditional format of our blogs to also spend time with our loved ones and dig deeper into our walks with Jesus. As we know, Jesus is THE REASON for the season!

So, now through December 21, we will be regularly posting fun and light reading content. We do plan on having a post on Christmas to share; then, we will be preparing for our upcoming year from December 26 until our first 2019 blog debuts on Jan 7. Our prayer wall ALWAYS remains available, every day, all day.

A sincere “thank you” to every single one of you. We love sharing with everyone how Christ continues to impact our lives. Our hope remains that we set a positive tone for your day, offer a word of encouragement, and shine a bright light for Jesus!

In True Friendship,

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