OT: From h2g2, the real meaning of the song 'The 12 Days of Christmas'

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Ah, the perks of being a Guide researcher. I received this holiday card via e-mail from h2g2 and thought others might enjoy it as well. Merry Christmas to all, and Happy belated Chanukkah.

-- Steve (hartsman@ticon.net), December 22, 1999


Oops. Forgot to close a tag. Here's the Guide's home page, and here's the card.

-- Steve (hartsman@ticon.net), December 22, 1999.

Oh the Fifth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me.... FIIIIIIIVE GOOOOOOLDEN TUBES!.... Four pounds of back bacon, Three French Toasts, Two Turtlenecks.... AND A BEER!

-- Bob and Doug MacKenzie (Where's the @beer.eh?), December 22, 1999.

I guess you're not a Catholic.

They teach us very early in Catholic School that the 12 Days of Christmas were thought up to help kids remember the religion when the Romans were killing off all the christians.

"Partridge in a Pear Tree" is obviously the symbolism for Jesus.

There are deeper meanings for the other eleven verses but I didn't pay very good attention in Catholic school, so I don't remember.

-- (and@thats.the facts, Jack), December 22, 1999.



The Yule Log tradition comes to us from Scandinavia, where the pagan sex and fertility god Jul, or Jule (pronounced 'yule'), was honored in a twelve-day celebration in December. A large single log, (generally considered to have been a phallic idol), was kept with a fire against it for twelve days, a different sacrifice to Jul being offered in the fire on each of the twelve days. The Yule log was originally an entire tree, carefully chosen, and brought into the house with great ceremony. The butt end would be placed into the hearth while the rest of the tree stuck out into the room. The tree would be slowly fed into the fire and the entire process was carefully timed to last the entire Yule season.

This is where the Twelve Days of Christmas originated, which are now counted as the twelve days between" Christmas" and Epiphany (January 12th)...


When most people hear of "The 12 days of Christmas" they think of the song. This song had its origins in the ancient Yuletide traditions of the Scandinavians, but later it was modified and engrafted into the Roman church as a teaching tool to instruct young people in the meaning and content of the [so-called] Christian faith.

From 1558 to 1829 Roman Catholics in England were not able to practice their faith openly so they had to find other ways to pass on their beliefs to the children and those new to the common faith. The song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is one example of how they did it. "The 12 Days of Christmas" is in a sense -- an allegory. 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 these presents is the Christian.

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(I Corinthians 13).

The "four calling birds" were the four Gospels which sing the song 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 "seven gifts of the Holy Spirit."(I 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 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 12 Days of Christmas" consider how this otherwise non-religious sounding song had its roots first in the Yuletide, then became modified and engrafted into the Catholic church tradition, on down to modern day Christmas Custom. If the roots of a lemon tree are engrafted into the roots of an orange tree, that tree will produced a bitter tasting fruit. And so it is with this Roman song when considering its root in the Yuletide traditions of Ancient Scandinavia.

-- Bruce (Christmas@not in Bible.com), December 22, 1999.

Hmmmmmmmm........seems a bit foolish worrying about being killed by the Romans in retrospect......

Truth is, One flavor of Christian killing another flavor of Christian has caused far more deaths than the Romans ever did!

The most dangerous person in the world.......easy.......one who is convinced that their spin on reality and beliefs are completely right and everyone else is wrong. More people have died because of that evil mindset than a 100 Roman empires could ever do.

-- Craig (craig@ccinet.ab.ca), December 22, 1999.

"Truth is, One flavor of Christian killing another flavor of Christian has caused far more deaths than the Romans ever did!"

I will suggest that these people you describe are/were not truly followers of Christ. Christ did not kill anyone, he taught love for one's neighbor, and he allowed himself to be killed without offering any resistance. I hardly think the people you describe were following that example. People can call themselves whatever they wish, but it is their actions that reveal their true nature. If I call myself clean, but I never bathe, am I clean just because I say I am?

-- T.D. (We're not all@what we claim.to be), December 22, 1999.

You are so right, T.D.!

While we're not supposed to judge one another, we can be 'fruit inspectors'. (You shall know them by their fruit.) There are so many false Christians out there and the true ones are blamed for the behaviour of the phony ones.

For example, people believing Y2k is the end of the world, or when Christ will return, when it can't possibly be until various prophecies are fulfilled, make me wonder where they get that. Christ will return in the future and the saints (believers in Christ) will reign with Him for a thousand years, but we aren't going to know when that will be. He will come as a 'thief in the night', and we are to watch and pray.

Also, these survivalists who are armed to the teeth and will shoot on sight are really exhibiting Christian love..NOT! 'When I was hungry, you fed me...' I know that some of these groups consider themselves Christians, but what Bible are they reading?

Anyway, may you all have a Blessed Christmas and a very uneventful new year! (I still hope the pollies are right.)

-- Connie Iversen (hive@gte.net), December 22, 1999.

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