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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Twelve Days of Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas are the days from Christmas until January 6th. The eight days of the Christmas Octave from December 25th to New Years Day and the four additional days up to and including the eve of January 6th, the traditional date of the Epiphany. The current church calendar places Epiphany on the first Sunday after New Years, so the exact number 12 may not always apply.

This year our family started a new Christmas tradition, decorating a separate tree with ornaments representing the Twelve Days of Christmas. We have been in our new home in Fairfield, California for two years so the tree is graced with a partridge and two turtle doves. Next year the Momboisse rendition of three French hens will be added.

The origin of the Twelve Days is, as they say, “it’s complicated” having to do with differences in calendars, church traditions and culture. The origin of the song The Twelve Days of Christmas, well, “it’s complicated” also. It isn’t clear if it is French or English or whether it was written when Catholicism was outlawed in England and the verses were “code” for Catholic teachings, or if it was John Denver or the Muppets. If there were more hours in a day I might get to the bottom of this, but alas there are not. 


What I found interesting is, as with everything in my life, it all comes back to God. I can now hear a cumulative sigh from my adult children and rousing, “Come on, not the Twelve Days of Christmas, the partridge, drummers, French hens, the Muppets, John Denver, and ladies dancing, no way.” Well maybe just one more Muppets with Jimmy and give Fozzie another chance, Robin.....


But yes Robin and Richard, there is a connection between the Twelve Days of Christmas song and Christianity............
Lyrics  vs Christian Association

On the first day of Christmas
My true love gave to me

A partridge in a pear tree (The partridge is Jesus, the tree is the cross.)
Two turtle doves (The two testaments, Old and New.)
Three French hens (Three gifts of the wise men., three Christian virtues,
or 3 persons of the Trinity.)
Four colly [black] birds (Four gospels)
Five golden rings (Five books of Moses, five senses God grant us grace to use well)
Six geese a-laying (Six days of creation)
Seven swans a-swimming (Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit - Rom. 12:6-8)
Eight maids a-milking (Eight beatitudes - Matt. 5-7)
Nine ladies dancing (Nine fruit of the Spirit - Gal. 5:22-23, hierarchy of angels which praise God continually)
Ten Lords a-leaping (Ten commandments)
Eleven pipers piping (Eleven faithful apostles)
Twelve drummers drumming (Twelve articles of the Apostles' Creed).

But alas if I were to pick a favorite rendition of
The Twelve Days of Christmas
 it would be
 Indiana University
A Capella Straight No Chasers

And to all a Good Nite <3

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