What Is The 12 days Of Christmas and What Does It Mean?

We cannot believe it’s December already! You know it’s officially that time of the year when the Christmas Ads are out and Starbucks swap to the Christmas menu!! We will soon be listening to all our favourite Christmas carols (if you haven’t started early), including the famous ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’. We all know or recognise the famous lyrics such as the line: ‘A partridge in a pear tree’, but do you know the meaning behind the lyrics and when the 12 days of Christmas actually are? Don’t worry if you don’t, we have got you sorted! 

Many people think that the 12 days of Christmas is the lead up to Christmas because of the traditional commercial anticipation up to 25th December. However, the actual "twelve days of Christmas" refer to a period of time starting on Christmas Day and finishing on January 5. 

Christmas Day, the 25th of December, marks the first of the 12 days of Christmas and celebrates the birth of Baby Jesus in Bethlehem. The following days follow the journey of the three wise men as they travel to baby Jesus. The 5th of January marks the end of their journey where they reach Bethlehem, also known as ‘Three Kings Day’. 

The lyrics in the song signify that each day in the period has a corresponding gift. It is also said that the lyrics may have held a secret meaning! There's a theory that claims that ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ song was used to secretly pass on the ideology of Christianity, when worshipping openly was punished. The first known publication of the lyrics of ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ was in the year 1740 but the version of the song that we hear today, comes from the publication in 1909. 

So, what is the gift associated with each day in the song and what is the theory of its deeper meaning? 

Partridge in the Pear Tree is Jesus Christ. 

2 Turtle Doves are The Old and New Testaments. 

3 French Hens are Faith, Hope and Charity, the theological virtues. 

4 Calling Birds are the four gospels and/or the four evangelists. 

5 Golden Rings are the first five books of the Old Testament. 

6 Geese A-laying are the six days of creation. 

7 Swans A-swimming are the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments. 

8 Maids A-milking are the eight beatitudes. 

9 Ladies Dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. 

10 Lords A-leaping are the ten commandments. 

11 Pipers Piping are the eleven faithful apostles. 

12 Drummers Drumming are the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed. 

We hope this blog has brought you some context for the next time you hear the ‘12 Days of Christmas’ song. Knowing the story behind this song, is sure to impress your relatives or friends when you are enjoying your Christmas dinner! 

We hope you enjoy the festive period, we sure will! If you are stuck for what to get one of your family members for Christmas, have you considered a personalised notebook? Our notebooks can be personalised with their initials, making it such a thoughtful present – check them out here! 

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