The Origin of the 12 days of Christmas Gifts and the Song Lyrics

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You may think the 12 Days of Christmas being "12" days before Christmas and countdown to Christmas day when Jesus Christ was born in the stable. So, why do we sing about the 12 days of Christmas and do the lyrics of the famous Christmas song actually mean anything? You may stand corrected at the end of this article!
The Origin of the 12 days of Christmas Gifts and the Song Lyrics | Love to Sing

You may think the 12 Days of Christmas being "12" days before Christmas and countdown to Christmas day when Jesus Christ was born in the stable. So, why do we sing about the 12 Days of Christmas and do the lyrics of the famous Christmas song actually mean anything? You may stand corrected at the end of this article!

What are the '12 Days of Christmas'?

Although you may think the 12 Days of Christmas is just a popular Christmas carol that was first published in England in 1780, the song actually has a rich religious meaning. The 12 Days of Christmas are the 12 days that occur between December 25th (Jesus's birth) and January 6th (the Epiphany). In Christian theology, the 12 days are the period between Christ's birth and the coming of Magi, otherwise known as the Three Wise Men. Epiphany, on January 6th is also known as Three Kings Day.

The carol 12 Days of Christmas, however, tells the story of a young girl who receives twelve gifts from her true love on each of the twelve days leading up to Christmas. The meaning of the carol is often debated, but many believe that each of the twelve gifts represent something important about the Christian faith. For example, the first gift, "a partridge in a pear tree," is thought to represent Jesus Christ, the ultimate gift from God - more on that below.





Explain to me each gift in the lyrics of 12 days of Christmas

Day one:

"On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree"

The partridge in a pear tree represents Jesus Christ. Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge, the only bird that will die to protect its young.

Day two:

"On the second day of Christmas My true love sent to me: Two turtle doves"

Two turtle doves are a representation of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, which tells the story of the Christian faith.

Day three:

"On the third day of Christmas My true love sent to me: Three French hens"

Three French hens represents the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity with the greatest of all being Love.

Day four:

"On the fourth day of Christmas My true love sent to me: Four calling birds"

Generally the easiest gift to understand in this cryptic song, four calling birds are the four Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Day five:

"On the fifth day of Christmas My true love sent to me: Five golden rings"

The five golden rings are the first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch.

Day six:

"On the sixth day of Christmas My true love sent to me: Six geese a-laying"

Each of the six eggs laid by the geese represents the first six days in which God made the world - he "hatched" everything into creation.

Day seven:

"On the seventh day of Christmas My true love sent to me: Seven swans a-swimming"

You need to really know the Bible and the Christian faith to understand this gift! The seven swans represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, and compassion.

Day eight:

"On the eighth day of Christmas My true love sent to me: Eight maids a-milking"

During the time the song was written in the late eighteenth century being a milkmaid was one of the lowest jobs one could do. So this gift represents Christ's love and grace for everyone in the world no matter the position in society.

Day nine:

"On the ninth day of Christmas My true love sent to me: Nine ladies dancing"

Described as the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit, these dancers came in the form of; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Day ten:

"On the tenth day of Christmas My true love sent to me: Ten lords a-leaping"

The ten Lords each represent one of the ten commandments, which derives from Lords being in charge of Laws throughout England.

Day eleven:

"On the eleventh day of Christmas My true love sent to me: Eleven pipers piping"

You may think of the 12 disciples, but when Judas betrayed Jesus in the Bible there were only 11 disciples left to carry the message throughout the lands.

Day twelve:

"On the twelfth day of Christmas My true love sent to me: Twelve drummers drumming"

Twelve drummers drumming is the representation of the 12 rules of doctrine in the Apostles’ Creed.





Lyrics to the Christmas song 12 Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
A partridge in a pear tree

On the second day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
Two turtle doves and
A partridge in a pear tree

On the third day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
Three French hens
Two turtle doves and
A partridge in a pear tree

On the fourth day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
Four calling birds
Three French hens
Two turtle doves and
A partridge in a pear tree

On the fifth day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
Five golden rings
Four calling birds
Three French hens
Two turtle doves and
A partridge in a pear tree

On the sixth day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
Six geese a-laying
Five golden rings
Four calling birds
Three French hens
Two turtle doves and
A partridge in a pear tree

On the seventh day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
Seven swans a-swimming
Six geese a-laying
Five golden rings
Four calling birds
Three French hens
Two turtle doves and
A partridge in a pear tree

On the eighth day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
Eight maids a-milking
Seven swans a-swimming
Six geese a-laying
Five golden rings
Four calling birds
Three French hens
Two turtle doves and
A partridge in a pear tree

On the ninth day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
Nine ladies dancing
Eight maids a-milking
Seven swans a-swimming
Six geese a-laying
Five golden rings
Four calling birds
Three French hens
Two turtle doves and
A partridge in a pear tree 

On the tenth day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
Ten lords a-leaping
Nine ladies dancing
Eight maids a-milking
Seven swans a-swimming
Six geese a-laying
Five golden rings
Four calling birds
Three French hens
Two turtle doves and
A partridge in a pear tree

On the eleventh day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
Eleven pipers piping
Ten lords a-leaping
Nine ladies dancing
Eight maids a-milking
Seven swans a-swimming
Six geese a-laying
Five golden rings
Four calling birds
Three French hens
Two turtle doves and
A partridge in a pear tree

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
Twelve drummers drumming
Eleven pipers piping
Ten lords a-leaping
Nine ladies dancing
Eight maids a-milking
Seven swans a-swimming
Six geese a-laying
Five golden rings
Four calling birds
Three French hens
Two turtle doves and
A partridge in a pear tree

The twelve days of Christmas are a time to celebrate and reflect on the meaning of the holiday. Each of the twelve gifts in the song represents something important about the Christian faith. From Jesus Christ as the ultimate gift from God, to the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, to the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, each gift is a reminder of what Christmas is all about. May we all take time during this season to remember the true meaning of Christmas and give thanks for all that we have been given. Merry Christmas!

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