Christian Symbols in the Twelve Days of Christmas
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Christian Symbols in the Twelve Days of Christmas

Eden : NC : USA | Dec 13, 2010 at 7:35 PM PST
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The Christmas song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" has everything to do with the Christian and the way Christians celebrate not only Christmas, but their faith. Each gift in the 12 days of Christmas has been associated with a symbol of the Christian religion.

1 Partridge in a pear tree = Jesus
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
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 tribes of Israel

1) Partridge in the pear tree is a symbol of Jesus. The pear tree symbolizes the salvation of man, just as the fruit tree in the Garden of Eden symbolized the downfall of man.

2) Two Turtle Doves stand for both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible. This indicates that the entire Bible is still the foundation of the Christian religion.

3) Three French hens are the symbols for faith, hope and love.

4) The four calling birds are symbolic of the four Gospel testaments; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and their inspired authors.

5) Five Golden Rings are the first five books of the Old Testament; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

6) Six geese a laying represent the 6 days of creation.

7) Seven swans a swimming - the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit. The first four, Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge and Counsel perfect the intellectual virtues. Wisdom perfects charity, in order to judge divine things. Understanding gives an intuitive penetration into truth. Knowledge perfects the virtue of hope and the gift of Counsel perfects prudence.

The next three, Piety, Fortitude and Fear of the Lord, each perfect virtues of the will and appetites. The gift of Piety perfects justice in giving to others, that which is their due. This is especially true of giving God what is His due. Fortitude perfects the virtue of Fortitude, in facing dangers. Fear of the Lord perfects temperance in controlling disordered appetites.

8) Eight maids a milking stand for the 8 beatitudes

9) Nine represents the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. The most famous Bible passage about the fruit of the Spirit is in Galatians 5:22, where Paul lists the following nine fruit of the Spirit: 1) Love, 2) Joy, 3) Peace, 4) Patience, 5) Kindness, 6) Goodness, 7) Faithfulness, 8) Gentleness, and 9) Self-control.

10) Ten lords a leaping is, of course, the 10 commandments.

11) Eleven stands for the 11 Faithful Apostles: 1) Simon Peter, 2) Andrew, 3) James, 4) John, 5) Philip, 6) Bartholomew, 7) Matthew, 8) Thomas, 9) James son of Alphaeus, 10) Simon the Zealot, 11) Judas son of James, (Thaddaeus).

Judas Iscariot was the twelfth disciple but since he betrayed Jesus he is not considered as one of the 11 faithful. Paul may have been considered as being the replacement apostle for Judas Iscariot.

12) Twelve drummers stand for the 12 tribes of Israel or the 12 Apostles. The number 12 also represents completion and fullness.

There is no accurate evidence that the song originally held such meanings, but it's wonderful that modern Christians have been able to interpret the song such a manner.

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