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12 days of Christmas 'Code' song??? qua Catechism


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Zorro 07 Jan 99 - 01:11 AM
Joe Offer 07 Jan 99 - 04:03 AM
Penny 01 Apr 99 - 02:54 AM
Penny 01 Apr 99 - 02:55 AM
Nathan 01 Apr 99 - 09:34 AM
Haruo 25 Dec 00 - 05:48 AM
GUEST,Sarah 25 Dec 00 - 02:06 PM
Penny S. 31 Dec 00 - 05:51 AM
GUEST,johah 24 Dec 08 - 03:41 PM
TRON____ 23 Dec 10 - 09:22 PM
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Subject: 12 days of Christmas Code song???
From: Zorro
Date: 07 Jan 99 - 01:11 AM

Click for related thread

Someone sent me this over the holidays. I'd never heard this explanation of the song, but it reminds me of some of the "code songs" the Irish wrote when the British banned some of their songs, music and instruments..

When most people hear of "The 12 days of Christmas" they think of the song. This song had it's origins as a teaching tool to instruct young peolple in the meaning and content of the Christian faith.

From 1558 to 1829 Roman Catholics in England were not able to practice their faith openly so they had to find other ways to pass on their beliefs. The song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is one example of how they did it.

"The 12 Days of Christmas" is in a sense an allegory. Each of the items in the song represents something of religious significance. The hidden meaning of each gift was designed to help young Christians learn their faith.

The song goes: "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me..." The "true love" represents God and the "me" who receives these presents is the Christian.

The "partridge in a pear tree" was Jesus Christ who died on a tree as a gift from God.

The "two turtle doves" were the Old and New Testaments - another gift from God.

The "three french hens" were faith, hope and love - the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (ICorinthians13)

The "four calling birds" were the four Gospels which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.

The "five golden rings" were the first five books of the Bible also called the "Books of Moses."

The "six geese a-laying" were the six days of creation.

The "seven swans a swimming" were "seven gifts of the Holy Spirit." (I Corinthians 12:8-11, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1Peter 4:10-11)

The "eight maids a milking" were the eight beatitudes.

The "nine ladies dancing" were nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)

The "ten lords a-leaping" were the Ten Commandments.

The "eleven pipers piping" were the eleven faithful disciples.

The "twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of the Apostles'Creed.

So the next time you hear "The 12 Days of Christmas" consider how this song had its origins in the Christian faith.

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Subject: RE: 12 days of Christmas
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Jan 99 - 04:03 AM

Hey, that was the text of the sermon we got on Christmas, Zorro. Can't remember where the priest said he got his information.
-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: 112 days of Christmas
From: Penny
Date: 01 Apr 99 - 02:54 AM

I had a look for the 12 Days over Christmas, but not here, and came across this explanation (or that it was used by covert English Catholics) in a lot of places, but with none of them giving a source. There is something odd about it. Firstly, in both England and Ireland, the Catholics were surrounded by Protestants, and a lot of the coded information was shared with them. There was no need to hide the Pentateuch in five gold rings, or the gospels as calling birds. There is very little specifically Catholic in there. Where is any reference to devotion to the Virgin? What about the numbers of sacraments? These are the things one would expect to be hidden. In England, (and I hadn't seen the Irish suggestion, where I know the situation was very different), after the Tudors, when some Catholics were executed for treason (the Pope had issued a sort of fatwa on Elizabeth), many Catholics were able to continue as such without being too secretive. The Norfolk family, and others, were able to do so, having private chapels, and hold high office. Some even did so during Elizabeth's reign. In the same way, (without the offices), Nonconformists at the other end of the spectrum were able to continue without encrypting their teachings. In most cases in the song (the gospels being a notable exception), the mnemonic is not easily related to the coded details by anything except the number. You might as well use playing cards. I would very much like to see the earliest references to this being used for the purpose given. One source suggested a Commonwealth origin. Given that Christmas itself was banned for a while there, hiding sacred information in a Christmas song at that time seems a little foolish. Especially when, at that time, anyone could get away with singing a number song enumerating the Testaments, the virtues (people named themselves from them), the gospels, the Pentateuch, the days of creation, the gifts of the spirit, the beatitudes, the fruits of the Spirit, the Ten Commandments (part of every parish churches decoration allowed to remain), and the eleven faithful disciples in the open.

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Subject: RE: 112 days of Christmas
From: Penny
Date: 01 Apr 99 - 02:55 AM

So I've nothing better to do than resurrect old, out of synch threads.

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Subject: RE: 112 days of Christmas
From: Nathan
Date: 01 Apr 99 - 09:34 AM

Not sure how it relates, but my French teacher in college told us that "A partridge in a pear tree" came from the affectation of the English showing off their breeding by repeating English phrases in French. "Una perdre" (not sure of spelling)is French for "One partridge", so the phrase "A partridge, una perdre" was corrupted into "A partridge in a pear tree."

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Subject: 12 Days of Xmas qua Catechism
From: Haruo
Date: 25 Dec 00 - 05:48 AM

In the Favorite Christmas Religious Music thread I reprinted an item from a Presbyterian Christmas Concert program asserting that "The 12 Days of Christmas" originated as a catechetical mnemonic for oppressed young English Catholics in the dark ages of Protestant England. I have now found the source from which the Presbyterians without attribution (in accordance with the Ten Commandments, I suppose ;-( as well as general church custom) got the tale (which has all the earmarks of a Preurban Legend). It's here, on the site of the Catholic Information Network, which ascribes it to a "Fr. Hal" with a date of 12/15/00.


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Subject: RE: 12 Days of Xmas qua Catechism
From: GUEST,Sarah
Date: 25 Dec 00 - 02:06 PM


Thanks, an interesting site.

I especially enjoyed his reply to all the you-can't-prove-that's-true responses he got. Makes me wonder: why would people demand "contemporary documentation" to support a history of something that was, by necessity, secret? If your life depended upon there being no evidence of your religious activity, wouldn't you shy away from written records? I would...

If it's legend, it's one of the most plausible I've heard.


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Subject: RE: 12 Days of Xmas qua Catechism
From: Penny S.
Date: 31 Dec 00 - 05:51 AM

This is only one place this has been discussed before.

12 Days


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Subject: RE: 12 days of Christmas 'Code' song??? qua Catechism
From: GUEST,johah
Date: 24 Dec 08 - 03:41 PM

Checking with Snopes this song has no bearing on the Catholic Catechism. Just a nice song from France.......source:   Snopes

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Subject: RE: 12 days of Christmas 'Code' song??? qua Catechism
From: TRON____
Date: 23 Dec 10 - 09:22 PM

I have been reading many of the posts on the 12 days of Christmas song...

I have been researching songs and folklore on this type of subject for many years, I am fairly certain that it originates as a french hymn, which rhymes, and that, can be traced back to the Latin or Greek version, and Roman as well, but except for a few references about the ancient french, nothing of note has made it to the web as yet.
Of course this time of year, I get a renewed sense of hope to finding those lost things which give so much direction, if one only knows how to listen to that old speak...
I would appreciate any help...
Thank you

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