The History and

Meaning of

The Twelve Days of Christmas

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I know, we all grew up listening to this well loved song and whether it be the wonderful muppit version with the shaggy blonde country singer John Denver, or a more classical rendition, I am not sure how many of use ever new what the song was entirely about. Well when I was younger is was a task just knowing all the words never-mind the reasoning behind it!

















So I am going to give you two background elements of the Twelve Days of Christmas, one being the history and what many churches today consider the true twelve days of Christmas, then I will give you the not-so-secret anymore meaning and history behind each line of the song!


The 12 Days of Christmas starts on Christmas Day and last through January 5th and really to the Epiphany on the 6th. Each day has a particular focus of celebration now and are all times for celebrating the season.


1st Day of Christmas:
DEC 25th December Christmas Day is to celebrating the Birth of Jesus


2nd Day of Christmas
DEC 26th St Stephen’s Day. He was the first Christian martyr.


3rd Day of Christmas  
DEC 27th Celebrating St John the Apostle and Evangelist, Jesus's Disciples and friends.


4th Day of Christmas
DEC 28th The Feast of the Holy Innocents is when people remember the baby boys which King Herod killed when he was trying to find Jesus.


5th Day of Christmas
DEC 29th St Thomas Becket. He was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century and was murdered on 29th December 1170 for challenging the King’s authority over Church.


6th Day of Christmas
DEC 30th St Egwin of Worcester Born of royal blood in the 7th century, Egwin entered a monastery and was enthusiastically received by royalty, clergy and the people as the bishop of Worcester, England. As a bishop he was known as a protector of orphans and the widowed and a fair judge.


7th Day of Christmas
DEC 31 "New Years Eve"
Pope Sylvester I is traditionally celebrated on this day. Also called Silvester, he was pope from January 31, 314 to December 13, 335. He served as the bishop of Rome at a crucial era in the history of Christianity, during the reign of Constantine I and the emergence of the Arian controversy, that involved matters pertaining to Christology and the Trinity.


8th Day of Christmas
January 1st - Mary, the Mother of Jesus


9th Day of Christmas
St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, two important 4th century Christians. St. Basil the Great was a learned, accomplished in statesmanship, a man of great personal holiness, and one of the great orators of Christianity. St. Gregory Nazianzen was a Christian poet, orator, and theologian, who, against his will and temperament, was appointed bishop of Constantinople.


10th Day of Christmas 
January 3rd  Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. This remembers when Jesus was officially 'named' in the Jewish Temple. It's celebrated by different churches on a wide number of different dates!


11th Day of Christmas
January 4th St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American saint, who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries is references in the Catholic Church but it may not be the original celebration for this day. 


12 Day of Christmas 
January 5th St. John Neumann who was the first Bishop in American. He lived in the 19th century.

January 6th - The next day is the Epiphany, a Christian feast celebrating the manifestation of the divine nature of Jesus to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi.


Now let us go into the song , 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' and what each verse represents!

The meaning behind the song was believed to have been created as a study aid for children and possibly a code for teaching the Christian doctrine without others knowing what they were were truly teaching or singing about, so here you go!


My True Love gave to me, is not a girlfriend or a boyfriend giving lavish gifts, it's deeper meaning was that is was that they are all gifts from above!


The partridge in a pear tree is said to represent Christ because the bird is willing to sacrifice its life if necessary to protect its young by feigning injury to draw away predators.


The two turtle doves were said to be the Old and New Testaments.


The three French hens stood for faith, hope, and love.


The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.


The five golden rings represented the first five books of the Old Testament, which describe man's fall into sin and the great love of God in sending a Savior.


The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.


Seven swans a-swimming represented the seven-fold gifts of the Holy Spirit which are Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.


The eight maids a'milking were the eight beatitudes.


Nine ladies dancing were said to be the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit which are Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Goodness, Mildness, Fidelity, Modesty, and Chastity.


The ten lords a'leaping were the Ten Commandments.


The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful Apostles.


The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in The Apostles' Creed.


Classic John Denver and The Muppets

The History of The

Candy Cane

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On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me twelve drummers drumming, (1).jpg