The twelve days of Christmas

Published January 7, 2012 by Tjchase

TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

ON THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME

A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE.

ON THE SECOND DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME

TWO TURTLE DOVES (repeat gifts in ascending order).

ON THE THIRD DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME

THREE FRENCH HENS (repeat gifts in ascending order).

ON THE FOURTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME

FOUR CALLING BIRDS (repeat gifts in ascending order).

ON THE FIFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME

FIVE GOLDEN RINGS (repeat gifts in ascending order).

ON THE SIXTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME

SIX GEESE A-LAYING (repeat gifts in ascending order).

ON THE SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME

SEVEN SWANS A-SWIMMING (repeat gifts in ascending order).

ON THE EIGHT DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME

EIGHT MAIDS A-MILKING (repeat gifts in ascending order)

ON THE NINTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME

NINE LADIES DANCING (repeat gifts in ascending order)

ON THE TENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME

TEN LORDS A-LEAPING (repeat gifts in ascending order).

ON THE ELEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME

ELEVEN PIPERS PIPING (repeat gifts in ascending order).

ON THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME

TWELVE DRUMMERS DRUMMING (repeat gifts in ascending order).

What do French hens, golden rings, and maids a-milking have to do with Christmas? Sixteenth century England proclaimed the “Church of England” as the official state church. Any other religious teaching was strictly prohibited. For the next three centuries those who refused to join the state church developed creative ways to teach children their beliefs. One popular method was to conceal the message of Christ in the lyrics of songs. Such was the case with the old carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.

This cheerful song about a generous benefactor who loved to give could be freely sung without mentioning God’s name. The true love written of in the first verse and repeated throughout the song represents God. The verses repeat over and over in recognition that God’s gifts are ongoing and continue to flow even to this day and will through eternity. Much like the “Energizer bunny”, God’s giving spirit just keeps going, and going, and going.

The whole song is based on scripture; specifically the scripture sited in James 1:17-18.

James 1:17-18 [NASB]

[17] Every good thing bestowed and every perfect

gift is from above, coming down from the Father

of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.

[18] In the exercise of His will He brought us forth

by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were,

the first fruits among His creatures.

Every good and perfect gift is from above.

Let’s take a close look at each verse and the underlying meaning of each.

“On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.”
The original gift, a bird from above, represents God’s original gift to us, Jesus. This is based on the scripture as found in John 3:16.

John 3:16 [NASB]

“For God so loved the world, that He gave

His only begotten Son, that whoever believes

in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

The partridge was not only a bird from above, but also known as a valiant bird willing to fight to the death to protect its young. This use of the partridge specifically is based on scriptures found in John 10:14-15.

John 10:14-15 [NASB]

[14] I am the good shepherd; and I know My own,

and My own know Me,

[15] even as the Father knows Me and I know the

Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. [emphasis added]

“On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtle doves”.
The turtle doves were used by Jews as offerings to God. The use of two turtle doves in this song is a reminder of the sacrifice offered by Mary and Joseph which is outlined in Luke 2:22-24.

Luke 2:22-24 [NASB]

[22] And when the days for their purification

according to the law of Moses were completed,

they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord

[23] (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every first-born

male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”),

[24] and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in

the Law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”

“On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me three French hens”.
French hens were valuable gifts during the 16th century. They weren’t regular chickens. On the contrary they were owned by only the richest of people. These three costly birds represent the three valuable gifts given by the wise men to the baby Jesus. This story is found in Matthew 2:10-11.

Matthew 2:10-11 [NASB]

[10] And when they saw the star, they

rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

[11] And they came into the house and saw

the Child with Mary His mother; and they

fell down and worshiped Him; and opening

their treasures they presented to Him

gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.

“On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four calling birds”.
The four calling birds are reminders of the four gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These apostles wrote the first four books of the New Testament proclaiming the life and teachings of Jesus. Like birds calling with loud and distinct voices they spread the good news and called people to faith in Jesus Christ. This verse is based on scriptures found in John 20:30-31.

John 20:30-31

[30] Many other signs therefore Jesus also

performed in the presence of the disciples,

which are not written in this book;

[31] but these have been written that you may

believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;

and that believing you may have life in His name.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me five golden rings.”
Gold was and still is the most valuable of gifts which are treasured by those who receive them. This phrase holds such significance that’s why it is held out during the singing of the song every time the phrase is sung. These five golden rings represent the first five books of the Old Testament known by the Jews as the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). In these books Moses recorded the creation history and the beginning history of the people of Israel. These books were held in such high regard because they contained the law and the history which is so important of the furtherance of the gospel ministry. This verse is based on scriptures found in Deuteronomy 34:10, 12.

Deut. 34:10, 12 [NASB]

[10] Since then no prophet has risen in Israel

like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face,

[12] and for all the mighty power and for all

the great terror which Moses performed

in the sight of all Israel.

“On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me six geese a-laying”.
In many, if not most cultures, eggs symbolize new life. In this song these six geese a laying symbolizes the six days God took to create the earth and “all new life”. It is based in scriptures found in Genesis 1:1, 31.

Genesis 1:1, 31 [NASB]

[1] In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

[31] And God saw all that He had made, and behold,

it was very good. And there was evening and

there was morning, the sixth day.

“On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me seven swans a swimming”.
It is interesting to note the use of swans in this phrase. Just as swans grow from ugly ducklings into beautiful and graceful birds, so do God’s children (Christians) grow and change through the work of the Holy Spirit. These seven swans a swimming represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. The seven various gifts of the Spirit are distributed for the benefit of the entire body of the Christian church. This verse is based on scripture found in Romans 12:6-8.

Romans 12:6-8

[6] And since we have gifts that differ according

to the grace given to us, let each exercise them

accordingly: if prophecy, according to the

proportion of his faith;

[7] if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;

[8] or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives,

with liberality; he who leads, with diligence;

he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

See if you can pick out the seven gifts of the Spirit which are represented by the swans a swimming.

“On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me eight maids a milking”.
This is very unique representation of the milk of the Word being shared and nourishing all children of Christ. Words of Jesus on the Mount nurtured and strengthened us as much as milk nourishes a child. This verse is based on scripture found in Matthew 5:3-12 in which the Beatitudes are contained.

Blessed are the poor in spirit…

Blessed are those who mourn…

Blessed are the meek…

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…

Blessed are the merciful…

Blessed are the pure in heart…

Blessed are the peacemakers…

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness…

As unusual as it may sound, the maids milking represent the eight unique teachings of Jesus in the Beatitudes.

“On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me nine ladies dancing”.
There are nine different “fruits of the Spirit” which are produced in the lives of God’s children. Just as these ladies danced joyfully so every Christian should rejoice over the life changing fruit of the Holy Spirit. The fruits of the Spirit are contained in Galatians 5:22-23.

Galatians 5:22-23 [NASB]

[22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,

patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

[23] gentleness, self-control; against such

things there is no law.

“On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ten lords a leaping”.
This should be easy for most people to identify readily. Lords were men with the authority to command people’s obedience. Ten lords a leaping symbolize God’s Ten Commandments which also command our obedience to God’s law.

“On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me pipers piping”.
Think for just a moment what this might represent. The eleven pipers piping represent the eleven apostles chosen by Jesus who remained faithful. Like children joyfully following a piper these disciples followed Jesus. After His death and resurrection they became the pipers who played an everlasting tune of joy, the resurrection of Jesus Christ which insures our eternal life. Just as pipers brought joy to the community so the eleven apostles brought joy. This is based on scripture found in Mark 3:16-19.

Mark 3:16-19 [NASB]

[16] And He appointed the twelve: Simon

(to whom He gave the name Peter),

[17] and James, the son of Zebedee, and John

the brother of James (to them He gave the

name Boanerges, which means, “Sons of Thunder”);

[18] and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew,

and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of

Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot;

[19] and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.

“On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me twelve drummers drumming”.
Just as drummers beat a loud and steady rhythm for marchers to follow, so the Apostles Creed sets forth the beliefs of Christians in a sound and straightforward way. There are twelve vital Christian beliefs stated in the Apostles Creed.

APOSTLES CREED

I believe in God the Father Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son,

our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit

and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under

Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was

buried. He descended into hell;

the third day he rose from the dead.

He ascended into heaven and sits

at the right hand of God the Father.

He shall return to judge both the

living and the dead. I believe in the

Holy Spirit, the Holy Christian church,

the communion of saints, the forgiveness

of sins, the resurrection of the body

and the life everlasting.

The drummers drumming represent the twelve vital Christian beliefs contained in this Apostles Creed.

It is interesting to know that the twelve days of Christmas run from December 25th through January 6th and they were first celebrated as the Feast of Epiphany in AD 567. It was traditional to give gifts on each of those days. Some families still practice that tradition today.

This brings us full circle in an effort to understand why we have to hide the name and the story of Jesus in the United States today. The truth is, unlike the 16th century when the “Twelve Days of Christmas” was written, we are not mandated by law to disregard the name of Jesus, to hide Christ at Christmas. On the contrary, it is a conscious decision on our part to remove Christ and replace Him with a “holiday”. Remember Peter and the other apostles who were flogged for sharing the name of Jesus and in Acts they were put in prison but the angel released them from custody. They immediately went out and started sharing Jesus’ name again. The high priests were perplexed and because of their unusual disappearance from the jail, and their fear of the reaction of the people, they did not put Peter to death but instead warned him again not to teach the name of Jesus. But what happened? It is clear in Acts 5:41, 42.

Acts 5:41-42 [NASB]

[41] So they went on their way from the presence

of the Council, rejoicing that they had been

considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.

[42] And every day, in the temple and from

house to house, they kept right on teaching

and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

Christmas is not a time to be ashamed of Christ. The very reason we have the message of salvation today is because the disciples refused to hide the name of Jesus. They did not care what was politically correct or that sharing Christ may cost them their lives. No matter who was offended they shared the story of salvation because they loved all the people just as Jesus did. You see if we hide the gospel from people we are condemning them to an eternity in hell. It is not loving of us to hide the name of Christ; just the opposite.

Christ is the reason for the season. Don’t be ashamed of Him. Don’t be silent when you are offended by the remarks in a society which downplays and downgrades our Savior. Paul teaches us that it is o.k. to be angry but sin not. We must share the love of Jesus. Not react harshly but respond with love and righteous indignation.

In this country we have just as much right to be offended as Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics, or just plain politically tolerant people. You see it is politically correct to be tolerant of everyone except Christians. I believe it is time to put Christ back into Christmas. Stop making it just a holiday for selling and start making it a holiday for telling.

As you prepare to give gifts and share the love Christ this season you would not even think of leaving someone out because you may not agree with their beliefs or lifestyle. Why then would you allow your Savior to be left out on Christmas? It is time we start sharing our Christ with all of the boldness of those who are trying to lock Him out of our country and our culture.

Give a gift of love to a Christ hater this year. Remember what Jesus said:

Matthew 10:33 [NASB]

“… Whoever shall deny Me before men,

I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

Go out and rejoice that He has saved you; He has given you a new life, and give Christ to someone else this season.

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