This year’s Christmas celebration may feel “over” for many of us (like many of you, we open our gifts and do the bulk of our family Christmas celebrating on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). However, we are actually still in the midst of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” which runs from Christmas Day (the day Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus) to January 6th (“Epiphany” – the day many Christians celebrate the arrival of the Magi and revelation of Christ as the light of the world).
I just recently learned that the silly song we hear around Christmastime – “The Twelve Days of Christmas” can be used to help all of us (especially children) remember certain truths from the Bible. Each element of the song can be used as a code for a religious truth:
1. Partridge in a pear tree – Jesus (“Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so.” (Luke 13:34 and Matthew 23:34))
2. Two turtledoves – Old Testament and New Testament
3. Three French hens – faith, hope, and love (“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13)
4. Four calling birds – four books of the gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)
5. Five golden rings – Hebrew Torah (Law), or the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)
6. Six geese-a-laying – 6 days of creation (from Genesis 1 & 2)
7. Seven swans-a-swimming – 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit (Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, Fear of the Lord – derived from Isaiah 11:2-3)
8. Eight maids-a-milking – 8 Beatitudes (from “The Sermon on the Mount” – Matthew 5:3-12)
9. Nine ladies dancing – 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control – derived from Galatians 5:22-23)
10. Ten Lords-a-leaping – 10 Commandments (from Exodus 20)
11. Eleven pipers piping – 11 faithful Apostles (excluding Judas, who betrayed Him) – listed out in Matthew 10:2-4
12. Twelve drummers drumming – 12 points of doctrine in the Apostles Creed:
– 1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
– 2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
– 3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
– 4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
– 5. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again.
– 6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
– 7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
– 8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
– 9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
– 10. the forgiveness of sins,
– 11. the resurrection of the body,
– 12. and the life everlasting.
Also, the “true love” in the song can refer to God Himself and the “me” receiving the gifts is relevant to every Christian.
Anyways, I thought it was a pretty interesting symbolic parallel. As my son grows, I am going to try and use this song to help us remember and reflect upon these Biblical truths listed above and the Apostle’s Creed. I love being able to tie all of the secular “stuff” we see around Christmas back to the true meaning – Jesus, God’s gift to us. Using the symbolism listed above, I can use this popular Christmas song to teach Shaan about Jesus and many important truths about/from the Bible.
Hope all of you had a very Merry Christmas!
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6