he ”Twelve Days of Christmas” refer to the eight days of Christmas Octave from December 25 to New Years Day, and the four additional days up to and including the eve of January 6, the traditional date of the Epiphany.
According to the handbook of Catholic Sacramentals by Ann Ball, the famous song about 12 Days of Christmas was written in England as catechism song for young catholics in the days when it was illegal to practice or teach the Catholic Faith. It contains hidden meanings intended to help children remember lessons of faith. Instead of referring to an earthly suitor the ”true love” mentioned in the song really refers to God. The ”me” who receives the presents is symbolic of every baptised person.
There appears to be no conclusive historical evidence to prove the origin of the song. Nevertheless, the traditional association between the gifts mentioned in the song and the various spiritual gifts is a fun way to turn a seemingly secular Christmas carol into a valuable Christian song. So lets have fun with it!
Partridge in a pear tree: Jesus Christ, symbolised as a mother partridge that feigns injury to decoy predators from helpless nestlings.
Two turtle doves: Old and New Testaments
Three French Hens: Faith, Hope, Charity.
Four Calling birds: The Four Gospels- Mathew, Mark, Luke and John.
Five Golden Rings: The Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy)
Six geese a laying: Six days of Creation ( Genesis 1)
Seven Swans a swimming: 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 12): wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord
Eight maids a-milking: 8 Beatitudes (Mathew 5:1-12)
Nine Ladies Dancing: Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5 vs 22-23) love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Ten Lords a-leaping: 10 Commandments(Deut 5:6-21)
Eleven pipers piping: The 11 faithful disciples
12 drummers drumming: 12 articles of the Apostles Creed.