Monday, December 13, 2010

The Twelve Days of Christmas Tradition

I believe that one of the most misunderstood traditions in this holiday season is the one about the Twelve Days of Christmas. Most people think it starts 12 days before Christmas, when in reality that's not the way it was intended.

I grew up celebrating it, even though I didn’t even know that’s what it was called. When I was a little girl growing up in Argentina, the best day about Christmas was actually January 6, when the Wise Men or Magi would come and leave a present on my polished clean and carefully laid out shoes, by my bedroom door. How many times did I imagine hearing their camels (not reindeer) making noises outside the house!

There’s symbolism in every single one of the presents in the song, even if some people think they are a bit odd and not related to Christmas.

Advent is a season of preparation, of joy and hope for the coming of the baby that will be the Redeemer of the world. Epiphany happens 12 days after the birth of the Savior. If you start counting on December 25th, then the evening of January 5th is the 12th night and January 6th is the 12th day of Christmas.

In most countries around the world where they still celebrate the old traditions, that’s when the Wise Men came to deliver presents to the newborn baby. And people believed there were three Wise Men just because He was given three presents. In South America and Spain, it’s called Dia de los Reyes Magos (Day of the Kings).

The song was created to teach young children about the tenets of the Catholic church. And these are the meanings:
  1 Partridge in the Pear Tree= Jesus Christ, the Son of God

  2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments

  3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues

  4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists

 5 Golden Rings = the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch.”

 6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation

 7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
 8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes

 9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit

10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments

11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles

12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

One more thing, I just came across the group Straight no Chaser, and fell in love with them. So check out their YouTube version of the Twelve Days of Christmas. It’s hilarious.

To check ideas for gifting go here, here and here.

Sources: here, here and here.

And may you all have a Merry Christmas.


Rachelle said...

Loved this article! I didn't know that about the 12 days of Christmas and it was neat to hear about your childhood memories. Merry Christmas!

CL Beck, author said...

Informative and fun article, Patricia. Thanks! And thanks, too, for the funny video clip. Loved it!

Jennifer Ricks said...

I was actually looking up the Twelve Days of Christmas and came across this website which says that it's folklore that it's about Christian beliefs. Take it or leave it, I guess. :)


Hello ladies and thanks for the comments!