For the past couple years I have been posting on Facebook during the 12 days of Christmas - December 26th thru January 6th. A verse each day. The 12 Days of Christmas has always been a favorite song of mine. I now know why as you will see from the explanation of each gift.
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.
The first gift of this Christmas song is a partridge, a small bird similar to a quail or a grouse. The original gift of Christmas is Jesus sent to earth from God. (John 3:16) The partridge was known as a valiant bird willing to fight to the death in order to defend its young. This bird's readiness to die for its young made it an ancient Christian symbol of Christ. The pear tree represents the cross.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtledoves.
For hundreds of years Jewish families used turtledoves as offerings to God. The gift of two turtledoves is a reminder of the sacrifice offered for Jesus by Mary and Joseph. When Jesus was forty days old, they took him to the temple in Jerusalem. They brought a sacrifice of two turtledoves as was required by the law.
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me three French hens.
French hens were valuable poultry during the sixteenth century – only the rich could afford them. These costly birds symbolized the three valuable gifts given to Jesus by the wise men: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold was the most precious of all metals. Frankincense and myrrh were expensive spices used as incense and for burials.
On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four calling birds.
The four calling birds are reminders of the four Gospel writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These writers of the first four books of the New Testament proclaimed the testimony of Jesus’ life and teachings. Like birds calling out with loud and distinctive voices, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John spread abroad the news of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. They called people to faith in Jesus as their Savior.
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me five golden rings.
Gold rings are among the most valuable and treasured of all gifts. The five golden rings represent the first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These books, known to the Jews as the Torah, were treated with great reverence and considered to be worth more than gold. In these books, Moses, the commonly accepted author, records the creation story and the beginning history of the people of Israel.
On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me six geese a-laying.
In many cultures, eggs symbolize new life. Six geese laying eggs became reminders of the six days of creation when God, by his Word, brought forth life on earth. God spoke and filled the earth with plants, birds, animals and people during the first six days of creation, as found in chapter one of the book of Genesis.
On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me seven swans a-swimming.
Seven swans symbolize the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Just as baby swans grow and change from “ugly ducklings” into beautiful and graceful birds, so do God’s children grow and change through the work of the Holy Spirit. The various gifts of the Holy Spirit are distributed for the benefit of the entire body of Christ. (Romans 12:6-8)
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me eight maids a-milking.
The eight milking maidens represent eight unique teachings of Jesus sometimes called the Beatitudes. These words of Jesus, from his Sermon on the Mount, nurture and strengthen us much the way milk nourishes a child.
On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me nine ladies dancing.
The nine ladies remind us of the nine different fruits that the Holy Spirit produces in God’s children. Just as these ladies dance joyfully, so can every Christian rejoice over the life-changing fruit of the Holy Spirit. Gifts of love and joy and peace are worthy of great celebration!
On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ten lords a-leaping.
Lords were men with authority to command people’s obedience. Ten lords a-leaping symbolize God’s ten basic laws, otherwise known as the Ten Commandments.
On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me eleven pipers piping.
Eleven pipers represent the eleven apostles who were chosen by Jesus and remained faithful to him. (There were twelve before the betrayal and suicide of Judas.) Like children joyfully following a pipe, these disciples followed Jesus. They also called others to follow him. They piped an everlasting tune of great joy – the salvation message of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me twelve drummers drumming.
Just as drummers beat out a loud, steady rhythm for marchers to follow, so the Apostle’s Creed sets forth the beliefs of those who call themselves Christians. The twelve drummers drumming represent the twelve vital Christian beliefs as stated in the Apostle’s Creed.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day he rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father. He shall return to judge both the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
From the book “The Real 12 Days of Christmas” by Helen Haidle
Throughout history people have been able to show God's love when they were forbidden to do so. I am so thankful that I live in a place where I am free to worship the Lord.
Have a wonderful Christmas season and a joyous New Year.