What the Twelve Days of Christmas Really Means

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Twelve Days of Christmas

There has been much misunderstanding as to what the twelve days of Christmas means, partly due to different interpretations or traditions.  It is not the twelve days before Christmas as it begins on December 25 or Christmas day, and ends on January 5.  The twelfth night is followed by the Epiphany on January 6.

Note that some religions traditions may differ by one or two days.  Currently, some religions exchange gifts on Christmas Day, some on the twelfth night, and some every one of the twelfth nights.

As for the song and its historical accuracy, some consider it nonsense and some say it dates back to the 16th century religious wars in England as lessons of the Christian faith.  These lessons were supposedly put into song because it was rumored in the 17th century that those practicing Catholicism in England, or putting it’s teachings down on paper, could be imprisoned or hanged.  However it’s true history, we all still enjoy this popular Christmas song.

One interpretation of the Christmas song follows:

  •  A partridge = Jesus Christ
  •  Two turtle doves = Old & New Testament
  •  Three French hens = Faith, hope, & love
  •  Four calling birds = The four gospels
  •  Five golden rings = The 1st 5 books of the Old Testament
  •  Six geese-a-laying = The six days of creation
  •  Seven swans-a-swimming = The 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit
  •  Eight maids-a-milking = The eight Beatitudes
  •  Nine ladies dancing = The nine Fruit of the Holy Spirit
  •  Ten Lords A-leaping = The ten commandments
  •  Eleven Pipers Piping = The eleven faithful apostles
  •  Twelve Drummers Drumming = The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles’ Creed

Click here to read our article called “The Economics of the 12 Days of Christmas”.

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