On the 11th Day of Christmas

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"One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles. Here are their names: Simon (whom he named Peter), Andrew (Peter’s brother), James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (who was called the zealot), Judas son of James),...". - Luke 6:12-16a

The popular song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is usually seen as simply a nonsense song for children with secular origins. However, some have suggested that it is a song of Christian instruction, perhaps dating to the 16th century religious wars in England, with hidden references to the basic teachings of the Christian Faith. They contend that it was a mnemonic device to teach the catechism to youngsters. The "true love" mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to those who are a part of the Christian Faith. Each of the "days" represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn.

Whether the song was used as a catechism or not, the religious meanings behind this Christmas Carol, warm my heart and remind me who this season is all about!

So, let's sing the song and learn what each verse is all about . . .

The 12 Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me a partridge in a pear tree.

True love = God, and Partridge in a Pear Tree = Jesus Christ on the Tree (cross)

On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me Two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Two Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testament (Old and New Covenant)

On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me Three French hens, Two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Three French Hens = The Three Theological Virtues: Faith, Hope, and Love - 1 Corinthians 13:13.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Four Calling Birds = The Four Gospels: 1) Matthew, 2) Mark, 3) Luke, and 4) John.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me Five golden rings, Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Five Gold Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me Six geese a-laying, Five golden rings, Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Six Geese A-laying = The six days of creation that confess that God is Creator and Sustainer of the world, from Genesis 1.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me Seven swans a-swimming, Six geese a-laying, Five golden rings, Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Seven Swans A-swimming = The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, and compassion, from Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:8-11.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me Eight maids a-milking, Seven swans a-swimming, Six geese a-laying, Five golden rings, Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Eight Maids A-milking = The eight Beatitudes: 1) Blessed are the poor in spirit, 2) those who mourn, 3) the meek, 4) those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 5) the merciful, 6) the pure in heart, 7) the peacemakers, 8) those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, from Matthew 5:3-10.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me Nine ladies dancing, Eight maids a-milking, Seven swans a-swimming, Six geese a-laying, Five golden rings, Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Nine Ladies Dancing = The nine Fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me Ten lords a-leaping, Nine ladies dancing, Eight maids a-milking, Seven swans a-swimming, Six geese a-laying, Five golden rings, Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Ten Lords A-leaping = The ten commandments: 1) You shall have no other gods before me; 2) Do not make an idol; 3) Do not take God's name in vain; 4) Remember the Sabbath Day; 5) Honor your father and mother; 6) Do not murder; 7) Do not commit adultery; 8) Do not steal; 9) Do not bear false witness; 10) Do not covet. (Exodus 20:1-17)

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me Eleven pipers piping, Ten lords a-leaping, Nine ladies dancing, Eight maids a-milking, Seven swans a-swimming, Six geese a-laying, Five golden rings, Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Eleven Pipers Piping = The eleven Faithful Apostles: Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James bar Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas bar James. (Luke 6:14-16). The list does not include the betrayer, Judas Iscariot.

Prayer: 
Lord God, we love Your Word and choose to make it central in our family life. Your Word is alive and active—It’s sharper than any double-edged sword—It judges the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12). We long to align ourselves spiritually with You and Your Word every day. We want to pray your Word with Your authority, and with greater faith and obedience in our lives as we approach this New Year. We rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. We meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways. We delight in Your decrees. We will not neglect Your Word. Amen.
Date: 
Jan 4 2019