On the 1st day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: a partridge in a pear tree!
Seriously, who wants a partridge in a pear tree? It gets more absurd as the song progresses. But how many of us actually know the meaning behind these seemingly meaningless words?
It all started back in England. In the time when you weren’t permitted to even say such a word as “Jesus.” So, these clever people came up with a clever way to wish their fellow believers a merry Christmas with meanings that would portray their true passion. That way, Christians could walk the streets singing about 5 golden rings, and no one’d know they were actually talking about the Laws of Moses. The translation might vary a little from person to person, but here’s how it’s mostly said to be:
“My True Love” is God the Father.
The first day of Christmas is actually Christmas Day.
1. Partridge is Jesus, and He’s in a pear tree because there was no room in the cage
2. Turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments
3. French Hens are the virtues: Faith, Hope and Love (1 Cor. 13:13)
4. Calling Birds are the four Gospels
5. Golden Rings are the books of the Law, the Torah, a.k.a. the Laws of Moses.
6. Geese are the six days of Creation (Gen. 1:1-2:1)
7. Swans represent the seven-fold gifts of the Spirit: wisdom, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits and tongues (1 Cor. 12)
8. Maids stand for the beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12)
9. Ladies are the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)
10. Lords are the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17)
11. Pipers are the eleven faithful disciples
12. Drummers symbolize the twelve points of the Apostles’ Creed
And the twelve days are the days between Christmas and the eve of the Feast of Epiphany.
So there you have it. Next time you sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” you can know what this song meant to the Christians of old.