The 12 Days of Christmas

You know the song The 12 Days of Christmas, right? Chances are, you know at least part of it (Five Gold Riiiiiings!), but did you know it might have been a way of secretly teaching young English Catholics their faith when Catholicism was frowned upon in England? That’s the theory proposed by Canadian English teacher and hymnologist Hugh D. McKellar. His interpretation of the song is as follows:

* A partridge in a pear tree: Jesus
* Two turtle doves: The Old and New Testaments
* Tree French hens: The three theological virtues faith, hope and love
* Four calling birds: The Four Gospels
* Five gold rings: The first five books of the Old Testament
* Six geese a-laying: The six days of Creation
* Seven swans a-swimming: Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit
* Eight maids a-milking: The eight Beatitudes
* Nine ladies dancing: Nine fruits of the Holy Spirit
* Ten lords a-leaping: The Ten Commandments
* Eleven pipers piping: The eleven faithful Apostles
* Twelve drummers drumming: The twelve points of the Apostles’ Creed

I’m a bad lapsed Catholic and can’t really say one way or another whether this makes sense, but it sounds kind of cool, doesn’t it? And it makes way more sense than thinking this was a song about giving completely bizarre gifts (really, who would want eight random women and their cows hanging around the house? They’d get in the way of the drummers and dancers, I would think.)

Happy Boxing Day!

One thought on “The 12 Days of Christmas

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