How the partridge got in the pear tree

Published 9:11 pm Wednesday, December 19, 2007

By Staff
The Twelve Days of Christmas is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me. What in the world do Leaping Lords, French Hens, Swimming Swans, and especially the Partridge that won't come out of the Pear tree have to do with Christmas?
Today I found out and I'm sharing this knowledge with you….
From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember:
The partridge in a Pear Tree was Jesus Christ.
Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
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 recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the HolySpirit; Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership and Mercy.
The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control.
The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.
The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.
So there is your history lesson for today. This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and enlightening and now I know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol. Please share it if you wish.
Our Christmas Wish to you and your family is:
May you have,
The Gladness of Christmas
Which is Hope,
The Spirit of Christmas
Which is Peace
The Blessing of Christmas
Which is Love.
Best Wishes for a great year in 2008
We at the Alabama Cooperative Extension System Escambia County Office wish you to have a happy, safe and blessed Christmas holiday!
Escambia County Extension Office Holiday Schedule: Our office will be closed for the holidays from Dec. 24-Jan. 2. We will resume normal hours from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 3, 2008.

Email newsletter signup