Monday, December 29, 2008

The Twelve Days of Christmas

By Bobby

We are in the middle of what is commonly called "the twelve days of Christmas," and many different thoughts have been made about the song. But what we're learning as we go through the "golden rings," "laying geese," and "swimming swans," or even the "milking maids" we celebrate on New Year's Day is that the terms have more serious Christian messages that were in code. This was shown at a poster in church recently

Much of it was based on religious imagery, as it was written in 1780. But many Christians have used the song as an allegory to Christmas, similar to the poem read by Wink Martindale regarding playing cards and a soldier.

What are, as legend says, is the code of the song?

"True Love" - God

"Me" - Believers

"Patridge in a Pear Tree" - Jesus Christ on the cross. The Savior is referred as a mother partridge who fakes injury to protect her children, and even willing to die for them. It is said this tree refers to the fall of man because of Adam and Eve, and the redemption of Christ on the Cross.

"Two Turtle Doves" - The Two Testaments of the Bible (Old and New)

"Three French Hens" - The Three Gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 13 - Faith, Hope, and Charity

"Four Colly Birds" - The Four Gospels who sing the song of salvation. In the New Testament, it refers to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

"Five Gold Rings" - The First Five Books of the Bible, also referred as the Jewish Torah. They are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

"Six Geese a-Laying" - Creation, as mentioned in Genesis 1. It took six days to create Earth.

"Seven Swans a-Swimming" - As mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8-13, in the Catholic Church, it refers to the Catechism. They are wisdom, knowledge, judgment, courage, understanding, piety, and the fear of God.

"Eight Maids a-Milking" - The Eight Beatitudes, mentioned in Matthew 5.

"Nine Ladies Dancing" - The Fruits of the Holy Spirit - Galations 5:22-23. They are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

"Ten Lords a-Leaping" - The Ten Commandments, as found in Exodus 20.

"Eleven Pipers Piping" - Eleven Faithful Apostles - Simon Peter, Andrew, James (son of Zebedee), John (James' brother), Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew (tax collector), James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot. Found in Matthew 10:2. A twelfth apostle betrayed Christ, and is not mentioned.

"Twelve Drummers Drumming" - The Apostle's Creed, a fundamental document of faith.

Belief in God the Father, Almighty, the Maker of Heaven and Earth
Belief Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
Conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.
Was punished by Pontius Pilate, crucified, dead, and buried. Descended into Hell.
Rose from the dead on the third day.
Ascended into Heaven, and sits on the right hand of God the Father.
Judges the quick and the dead.
Believe in the Holy Ghost
Believe in the holy universal (some Catholic), and the Communion of Saints.
Believe in the Forgiveness of Sins,
The Resurrection of the Body,
And Life Everlasting.

Interestingly, one famous setting of the Apostles' Creed is the song "Creed" by the late Rich Mullins (1955-97), a singer-songwriter from Richmond, Indiana. The irony of his death came because he was helping independent singer-songwriter Mitch McVicker with a new album the young artist was recording, and on the way to a concert after a recordiing session, Mullins and McVicker were thrown from their truck in a crash. Neither wore their seat belts, and Mullins was hit by a passing truck, and killed instantly. McVicker was injured but survived. Eighteen months later at the GMA Dove Awards, Mullins and McVicker had won Song of the Year for "My Deliverer".

The irony of neither man was wearing a seat belt in the highway crash came when they had won the award, since the presenter of the award to McVicker and also to Mullins' brother David was a popular female vocalist compared to Susan Lucci for her inability to win awards (she won her first the previous year, and another award that year), and a triple NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion of the 1980's who wore six-pointed safety harnesses, full-face helmets, and later, the HANS device.

And what do those twelve days mean?

The twelve days is the Epiphany, or the day the Wise Men came to visit the Baby Jesus. That is celebrated January 6. So celebrations of the Advent, sadly, have been omitted in recent years. But we should remember why we celebrate Christmas, and this list shows the interesting meanings of it.

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