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Find Out Friday Week 20- “The Twelve Days of Christmas”


Although the Christmas season is officially over, especially since today is known as Little Christmas (a.k.a. Three Kings Day) for those of us that celebrate, I appear not to be ready to let go of this holiday. My Christmas decorations are still up in my home and my ringtone is still set to “Dominick the Donkey”, arguably the greatest Christmas tune there ever was.

So this is why my first Find Out Friday of 2017 is Christmas adjacent. Ever since I went on a holiday cruise back in November (http://bit.ly/2jdsq7R) the lyrics to a particular song has been bothering me. I could not wait another second to explore the meaning behind curious list in “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. Needless to say it is not what it seems to be.

As history tells it the time between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, Catholics were not allowed to share their faith openly in our mother land of England. This period was known as the Protestant Reformation. Catholics were not allowed to divorce but King Henry VIII of England at this time had different desires. The King wanted to leave his wife Catherine of Aragon, for his mistress Ann Boleyn, so he dismissed Catholicism he encouraged his people to follow in his footsteps.

Thus it makes sense that Christian songs would have to be sung using a secret code. It reminds me of my trip to the First African Baptist Church (http://bit.ly/2iS8ivr) in Savannah. During my visit the tour guides described how the design in the ceiling was a symbol that there was safe refuge for slaves underground. Codes have been around for centuries with no limited amount of purposes.

I would not have guessed that religion was behind this seemingly boring Christmas song but in light of the historical context from when it originates, I find it much more interesting. It just goes to show you that anything can lie in plain sight or sound.

For a clearer picture of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, from the real words to the true meaning, simply follow the list below.

  1. The 'partridge in a pear tree' means God.
  2. The 'two turtle doves' are the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
  3. The 'three French hens' are the Christian Trinity: God the Father, His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
  4. The 'four calling birds' are the four Gospels in the New Testament of the Bible.
  5. The 'five golden rings' are the five senses.
  6. The 'six geese a-laying' are the six days of creation.
  7. The 'seven swan a swimming' are the seven 'liberal arts' studied in medieval universities.
  8. The 'eight maids a milking' are the eight beatitudes, Jesus' teachings on happiness.
  9. The 'nine ladies dancing' are the nine muses from Greek Mythology.
  10. The 'ten lords a-leaping' are the Ten Commandments in the Bible.
  11. The 'eleven pipers piping' represent eleven thousand who had been martyred (killed) for the Christian faith. (I suppose at that time.)
  12. The 'twelve drummers drumming' were the twelve disciples of Jesus. 

It all seems kind of obvious now. But hindsight is always twenty/twenty.

I bet your next holiday sing-a-long won’t be nearly as dull. Next year you will have to pass out this blog along with the lyric pages.

For those of us who count the presents we receive, despite knowing that Jesus is the reason for the season, would have a total of three hundred and sixty-four if we were to receive everything the song entails. That’s more than those who celebrate Christmas and Hanukah receive! 

A tradition I wouldn’t mind embracing but I don’t personally need any geese a laying or partridges in a pear tree, thank you very much. Too bad we couldn’t use our Amazon Wish List instead.

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