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Meaning of Twelve Days Of Christmas and Lyrics Of Twelve Days Of Christmas

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” is a one-holiday classic - and while it may not be as catchy as some of our other favourite Christmas songs

Posted By- Khyati Rathod | Posted On - Dec 16, 2020


"The Twelve Days Of Christmas Meaning And Lyrics"


“The Twelve Days of Christmas” is a one-holiday classic - and while it may not be as catchy as some of our other favorite Christmas songs, ask anyone that what their true love gave them on their first day of Christmas, and they would probably be able to sing right back “A partridge in a pear tree!” and ina plus point a song would never factor heavily into the plot of a Hallmark movie if it didn’t fully capture the Christmas spirit.


After hearing the song in all season while you decorating your Christmas tree, planning your most original holiday party, and baking the most delicious Christmas cookies - you may start to wonder, what does this mean?


Truthfully not that much of the song that makes sense from a modern perspective. Why are there so many gifts? What do they mean? Who wants an eight maids-a-milking. And what would you even do with them? Like many old stories, we have to understand the time that it was first written to understand what it means, Let’s take a look at the true story.  


The Lyrics we know that is not original:


Though some scholars believe that the song is French in origin, the first print is the appearance of the song was in the English children’s book Mirth with-out Mischief,  if you are never ever heard it of that is just because that is published in 1780. You have to ask that person who sold it for $23,750 at a Sotheby’s auction for a first edition to borrow their copy, but you may not recognize the lyrics. In this version, the “four calling birds” were actually “Four colly birds” The term “colly” is one Old English slang that means birds dark as coal, a.k.a. Blackbirds. In the other old version of the song, the partridge we know and love is replaced with a “very pretty peacock upon a pear tree” if you think that’s weird, consider a Scottish version that gifts “an Arabian baboon” in 1909 one British composer Frederic Austin penned the version we are all familiar with today.     


The Song Started With Game:


Most historians believe that the song started out as a “memory-and-forfeit” game in 1800s England. These types of games were played by British school children, and the rules were simple. When it’s your turn, you repeat all the previously sung lyrics and add them in next time. If you can’t remember a verse, you owe your opponent a “forfeit” which is usually a kiss or a piece of candy.  


Explained "The Twelve Days Of Christmas":





The song doesn’t contain a secret code about Christianity…


In this song, you may have seen this theory floating around via chain emails and message boards. In a nutshell, the theory claims that during a time when Christians were punished for worshiping openly, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” song was used to secretly pass on the ideology of Christianity. In this theory, each one gift symbolizes a different aspect of the faith:


    1. The partridge in the Pear Tree is Jesus Christ

    2. The 2 Turtle Doves are The Old and New Testaments

    3. The 3 French hens are Faith, Hope, and Charity, the theological virtues

    4. The 4 Calling Birds are the four gospels and the four evangelists

    5. The 5 Golden Rings are the first five books of the Old Testament

    6. The 6 Geese A-lying are the six days of Creation

    7. The 7 Swans a-swimming are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments

    8. The 8 Maids A-milking are the eight beatitudes

    9. The 9 Ladies Dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit

    10. The 10 Lords A leaping are the ten commandments

    11. The 11 Pipers piping are the eleven faithful apostles

    12. The 12 Drummers drumming are the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed.


Snopes breaks down the many historical and logistical errors in this theory. Nut the biggest flaw in this claim is that if Christians lived in fear of even mentioning the basic tenants of Christianity how were they able to sing a song that mentions the word “Christmas” in every lyric?  


It has one big reference for Christianity:


There is one thing that all historians can agree on is that the twelve days over which the song takes place is a reference to Christianity. “The Twelve Days of Christmas” historically did not reference the days that lead up to Christmas, but the twelve days of Christmas follow it. The period begins with the birth of Christ on December 25th, Christmas Day, and ends with the coming of the Three Wise Men on January 6th, the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. 


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