Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Icon of the Nativity of Christ.
      The Twelve Days of Christmas, and the associated evenings of those twelve days (Twelve-tide), are the festive days beginning the evening of Christmas Day (December 25) through the morning of Epiphany (January 6). The associated evenings of the twelve days begin on the evening before the specified day. Thus, the first night of Christmas is December 25–26, and Twelfth Night is January 5–6. This period is also known as Christmastide.
      Over the centuries, differing churches and sects of Christianity have changed the actual traditions, time frame, and their interpretations. St. Stephen's Day, for example, is December 26 in the Western Church and December 27 in the Eastern Church. Boxing Day the first weekday after Christmas observed as a legal holiday in parts of the Commonwealth of Nations and was traditionally marked by the giving of Christmas boxes to service workers (such as postal workers and trades people) in the United Kingdom; December 28 is Childermas or the Feast of the Innocents. Currently, the 12 days and nights are celebrated in widely varying ways around the world. For example, some give gifts only on Christmas night, some only on Twelfth Night, and some each of the 12 nights.
      During the 16th Century, Catholics created the carol to be sung publicly without censure. The original symbolic meanings of the riddle where in fact a formula for their catechism. The government at that time would have prohibited such forms of speech in their communities and this is why the religious symbols were kept secret. The truth of this has been widely understood for quite some time among Lutherans, who are Protestant, and have known about the "hidden" catechism for many many years prior to the internet's existence. As Protestants, we have no alternative agenda to proliferate this knowledge, we simply speak to what we have had evidence of for many years. Below is the religious symbolic content for the 12 Days of Christmas, none of it is urban myth and none of it is scandalous.
      Incidentally, all Lutherans learn an almost identical catechism to the following. And, many other Protestant denominations also would find nothing amiss in the reciting of the following catechism. Indeed, they teach it already in Sunday School to their own children. They just remove the heading "Catholic Catechism" from the statement of faith. But, all of these little lessons are common to most every single Christian church because they are found in the Bible.
  1. Partridge in a Pear Tree – Jesus, as described in Luke 13:34
  2. Two Turtle Doves – The two testaments of the Bible, old and new
  3. Three French Hens – The Holy Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) (Hens are reference to the scriptures in Isaiah referring to God gathering Israel as a mother hen gathers her chicks to her breast.)
  4. Four Calling Birds – The Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (Both birds and fish are very ancient symbols of "The Church in Christ" The birds represented are usually sparrows though.)
  5. Five Golden Rings – The Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible (These are the oldest books written in the times of Moses)
  6. Six Geese a-Laying – The six days of the Creation
  7. Seven Swans a-Swimming – The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, understanding, cousel, knowlege, piety, fear of the Lord (respect), and courage)
  8. Eight Maids a-Milking - The eight beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount, book of Matthew)
  9. Nine Ladies Dancing – The nine fruits of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control)
  10. Ten Lord a-Leaping – The Ten Commandments (Moses brought them down from the mountain top, broke 'em, and went back to retrieve another set, "sigh")
  11. Eleven Pipers Piping – The eleven faithful apostles (Minus Judas. Piping pipers also had a significant meaning in Western European folk tales. They were symbolic of "leading" children down a path away from their parent's corruptions.)
  12. Twelve Drummers Drumming - The doctrines in the Apostles' Creed

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