Merry Christmas everyone!
Today I want to look at the 12 Days of Christmas and an urban legend that
surrounds the song. I have twelve gifts for you coming for also, one gift each
day for the next 12 days. Follow along with me, I promise you will not be disappointed.
The twelve days of Christmas is also known as twelvetide. What
we know is that the twelve days of Christmas in the song are the twelve
days between the birth of Christ (Christmas, December 25) and the coming of the
Magi (Epiphany, January 6). Although the specific origins of the song “The
Twelve Days of Christmas” are not known, it possibly began as a Twelfth Night
“memory-and-forfeits” game in which the leader recited a verse, each of the
players repeated the verse, the leader added another verse, and so on until one
of the players made a mistake, with the player who erred having to pay a
penalty, such as a offering up a kiss or a sweet. This is how the song was
presented in its earliest known printed version, in the 1780 children’s book . (The song is apparently much older than this printed
version, but we do not currently know how much older.) Textual evidence
indicates that the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was not English in
origin, but French. Three French versions of the song are known, and items
mentioned in the song itself (the partridge, for example, which was not
introduced to England from France until the late 1770s) are indicative of a
The urban legend that surrounds the song says that the song was written as a subversive, underground catechism to help school kiddos learn the basic tenets of the Christian/Catholic faith and that there is hidden meaning in the lyrics. The time frame and era under discussion begins with King Henry VIII who reigned from 1509 until his death in 1547. In a dispute with Pope Clement the VII over the annulment to King Henry's wife at the time,Catherine of Aragon, he broke from the Catholic Church in Rome and established the Anglican Church which was the start of the reformation. Queen Mary I was England's first female monarch, she was Catholic and the only surviving child of Henry the 8th and Catherine of Aragon. Mary took the throne July of 1553 after the brief reign of her half-brother, Edward VI and was best known for trying to reverse the reformation that her father started. In 1558 Mary I died and her non-Catholic half-sister, Elizabeth I, took the throne and the following year the Act of Uniformity abolished “the old worship,” and the open practice of Catholicism was forbidden by law until Parliament passed the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829. So from 1558 until 1889 outward practice of the Catholic faith was forbidden by law. It is suggested during this time when Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly that 12 Days of Christmas was written as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of the Church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember. The hidden meaning was confirmed by and many believe this story to be true.
So what are the hidden meanings in the song? We will look at one day at a time over the next twelve days as I release a gift to you each day. I will explain the meaning that many believe is in that days song and tell you how to access the gift I have for the day. This will be fun! I am so thankful for each of you, thank-you for sharing your creative journey with me and thank-you for allowing me to share my journey with you.
Lets look at Day one, the celebration of the birth of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, A partridge in a pear tree". There are two things to consider in day one. First, the “True Love” one hears in the song is not a smitten boy or girlfriend but Jesus Christ, because true Love was born on Christmas Day. Christ also is symbolically presented as a mother partridge, the only bird that will die to protect its young.
As an interesting side note, the early North American colonists brought their version of the Twelve Days over from England, and adapted them to their new country, adding their own variations over the years. For example, the modern-day Christmas may have originated with these colonials. A homemade wreath would be fashioned from local greenery and fruits, if available, were added. Making the wreaths was one of the traditions and they would remain hung on each home's front door beginning on Christmas Night (first night of Christmas) through the twelfth night or Epiphany morning. As was already the tradition in their native England, all decorations would be taken down by Epiphany morning and the remainder of the edibles would be consumed. A special cake, the Three Kings Cake aka Kings Cake, was also baked then for Epiphany.
Thank-you for joining me on Christmas Day. The gift I have for you today is a free booklet called 5 days to Victory. In this book I give you five hacks to overcome various things that keep us from the studio. Click on the link below to claim your free gift. Merry Christmas!