Classic Christmas song holds special meaning to some

Published 11:06 pm Friday, December 21, 2018

“The 12 Days of Christmas” is a fun song that is sung around the Christmas holidays that really doesn’t seem to make a lot sense.

It’s all about feathered creatures, ladies and lords and pipers and drummers. Usually, when the song or carol, whichever one prefers, is sung the “carolers” are divided into groups with each group assigned a number or numbers one through 12. In turn the groups sing the verse according to their assigned number. However, after each verse, the song goes back to the First Day of Christmas,  No. 1, a partridge in a pear tree.

The nonsense song heralds a partridge in a pear tree, two turtle doves, three French hens, four calling birds, five golden rings, six geese a-laying, seven swans a-swimming, eight maids a-milking, nine ladies a-dancing, ten lords a-leaping, eleven pipers a-piping and twelve drummers drumming.

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The fun, sometimes the silliness, of the song is that much of the time the groups can’t remember the lyrics or either sing out of turn. There’s a lot of laughing and merriment at the attempts to get it right. Seldom is “The 12 Days of Christmas” sung without a few goof-ups.

A popular theory about  “The 12 Days of Christmas” is that its lyrics actually have references to Christianity and to the real reason for the season.

Mike Robertson, pastor of Williams Chapel United Methodist Church, said his congregation often sings “The 12 Days of Christmas” as an activity of church gatherings but not as a part of a worship service.

“It’s a fun song and we have a lot of laughs singing it, but I’m not familiar with it as a reference to Christianity but it could be,” he said.

The theory that the numbers refer to Christian symbols has been recanted and there is no actual proof to verify that theory.

However, it’s worth consideration, especially at the time of year when the birth of the Christ Child is being celebrated.

Whether the song is just a fun song to be enjoyed by all ages or one with Christian meaning, it is part of the Christmas tradition in America.

The Christian implications of “The 12 Days of Christmas” are:

The Partridge in the Pear Tree is reference to Jesus Christ, the Alpha and the Omega.

Two Turtle Doves – the Old and New Testaments.

Three French hens – faith, hope and charity -the Theological virtues.

Four Calling Birds – the Four Gospels

Five Golden Rings -the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch,’which gives the history of man’s fall from grace.

Six Geese A-laying – the six days of creation.

Seven Swans A-swimming – the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments.

Eight Maids A-milking – the eight beatitudes.

Nine Ladies Dancing – the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Ten Lords A-leaping – The 10 Commandments

Eleven Pipers Piping – the 11 faithful apostles

Twelve Drummers Drumming – the 12 points of the Apostle’s Creed.