The Twelve Days of Christmas
A Partridge in a Pear Tree
When you think of the familiar seasonal favorite, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," you may have wondered what a partridge in a pear tree has to do with the birth of our Lord? This fun song may be somewhat difficult to memorize, but it has a fascinating history that you might want to share with the guests at your party.
The Story Behind the Song
The time between Christmas Day and Epiphany, a Catholic festival observed on January 6th, is twelve days. "Epiphany" literally means revelation, manifestation, or a sudden knowledge. It celebrates the journey of the three wise men who followed the star to Bethlehem to meet Jesus, the promised Savior of mankind.
In England, from the mid-1500's to 1829, it was against the law for Catholics to practice their fiath in public or in private. Those that were caught could be brutally treated, imprisoned or executed. But because many Catholic people held such strong beliefs -- they still wanted to teach the basics of their faith to their children. One of the clever ways they did it was through this song. It must have seemed like nothing more than a nonsense holiday song to many people. But in reality it was a very special song with a very serious purpose. The song was written aas a memory aid to encourage people's faith in Christ. It was filled with hidden codes and symbols! See if this list doesn't surprise you ---and even help you remember the words!
The Story Behind the Song
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8Eight Maids A-Milking = the eight Beatitudes found in Matthew's Gospel
The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12)
Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them, saying:
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
2. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
3. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.
5. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.
6. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
7. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.
8. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
10Ten Lords A-Leaping = the Ten Commandments
1. I, the Lord, am your God. You shall not have other gods besides me.
2. You shall not take the name of the Lord God in vain.
3. Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day.
4. Honor your father and your mother.
5. You shall not kill.
6. You shall not commit adultery.
7. You shall not steal.
8. You shall not bear false witness.
9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.
12Twelve Drummers Drumming = the twelve elements of faith found in the Apostle's Creed
1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: 2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord: 3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary: 4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell: 5. The third day he rose again from the dead: 6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty: 7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead: 8. I believe in the Holy Ghost: 9. I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints: 10. The forgiveness of sins: 1l. The resurrection of the body: 12. And the life everlasting. Amen.