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Dove

I realize it is more than twelve days until Christmas, but I found this information interesting and though I would pass it along. Many of us hear the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and can hardly wait for it to be over. After reading it's origin, maybe you will change your mind and appreciate it in a different way.

Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829, when Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England, were prohibited from any practice of their faith by law, private or public. It was a crime to be a catholic.

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the catechism songs to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith. It was a memory aid, when to be caught with anything in writing indicating adherence to the Catholic faith could not only get you imprisoned, it could get you hanged, or beheaded, or drawn and quartered, a rather peculiar and ghastly punishment.

The songs gifts are hidden meanings to the teachings of their faith. The "true love" mentioned in the song refers to God himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge which feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, much in memory of the expression of Christ's sadness of the fate of Jerusalem. (Matthew 23:37)

Two Turtle Doves - The Old and New Testaments

Three French Hens - Faith, Hope, and Charity, The Theological Virtues

Four Calling Birds - The Four Gospels

Five Golden Rings - The first five books of the Old Testament, which gives the history of man's fall from grace.

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Six Geese A-laying - The six days of creation

Seven Swans A-swimming - The seven gifts of the Holy spirit, the seven sacraments

Eight Maids A-milking - The eight beatitudes

Nine Ladies Dancing - The nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit

Ten Lords A-leaping - The ten commandments

Eleven Pipers Piping - The eleven faithful apostles

Twelve Drummers Drumming - The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

After reading the true meaning behind the origin of this song, it makes one stop and view it in an entirely different light. I think I will never look at that song or hear it in the same way again. 

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Audrey B. Unruh is a local columnist, who can be reached at zwiebach@charter.net

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