Saturday, December 24, 2016


Over the years I have written several Thoughts about Christmas which I have chosen to share with you during the Twelve Days of Christmas. I hope they will bring you and yours a small drop of joy during this very special time of year.

Before we commence, it is important that we all come to a common understanding that the words The Twelve Days of Christmas indeed are the title of the carol we are all familiar with. The words the twelve days of Christmas also refer to an actual 12 day period which begins on the 25th of December and ends on the 6th of January or the traditional day of Epiphany when the manifestation of Christ’s glory is
celebrated by many Christians.


I suspect very few of us ever catch there being any connection between the birth of the Christ Child and the words we hear when people are singing about Turtle Doves, Swans-a-Swimming or Maids-a-Milking. None the less, if we join in, we all know to slow down when singing the words of Golden Rings and shift into a slightly lower register when we come to the words about a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

No one knows for sure if the traditions about this song are true or not, but historians place the origin of the song in the 1700’s in England.

One of the theories is that the song was a game used by British children, which could also have been the origin of such games as Spin-the-Bottle or Truth-or-Dare. In the old game of Memory-and Forfeit, player # 1 would sing a verse. Then player # 2 would have to remember and sing the verse by player #1 and add an additional verse. Then player #3 would have to remember the verses sung by players # 1 and # 2 and add an additional verse. This would then continue until player # 7 or whatever was unable to remember or add a verse. Upon the failure of whatever # player whose turn it was that person would have to pay a forfeit.

I know, you are thinking, what this has to do with Spin-the-Bottle let alone Christmas. Well the forfeit was to be given in the form of a kiss to the other children or a piece of candy, so that seems to be the connection to Truth-or-Dare.

The most often used idea of how The Twelve Days of Christmas ties in with the birth of the Christ Child comes from the abandonment of Catholicism in England during 16th through the 19th centuries. It has been hypothesized that during this period The Twelve Days of Christmas became a catechism song for Catholic children to remember the tenets of their faith, since they could not openly practice their religion.

Since there doesn't seem anything uniquely Catholic about the tenets assigned to each verse, we can easily see, that even if the preceding story is correct, why all Christian faiths would have no problem adapting the song to their Christmas rituals.

A Partridge in a Pear Tree - Jesus Christ

Two Turtle Doves - The Old and New Testaments

Three French Hens - The three virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity

Four Calling/Collie Birds - Four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

Five Golden Rings - First five books of the Old Testament

Six Geese-a-Laying - Six days of creation before God's rest on the seventh day

Seven Swans-a-Swimming - Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit

Eight Maids-a-Milking - Eight Beatitudes

Nine Ladies Dancing - Nine fruits of the Holy Spirit

Ten Lords-a-Leaping - Ten Commandments

Eleven Pipers Piping - Eleven faithful disciples

Twelve Drummers Drumming - Twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed

I hope our journey together over the next few days will let you feel how important you are to Kathleen and me.


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