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Home UK Christmas World Archive Twelve days of Christmas - Part One

Twelve days of Christmas - Part One

The Christmas carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is more than just a carol used to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season; this song was composed in the 16th century by English Jesuits. It’s a common misconception that this song was written with the intent of recounting the splendid gifts that are given throughout the twelve days of Christmas, but it is in fact a tenet that aided young Christians to remember their faith in secrecy, as between 1558 and 1829 it was illegal to practice Catholicism.

christmas sheet music with red bells on top

The Twelfth Day

The 12 Drummers Drumming are the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed, representing the twelve basic beliefs that the Catholic church outlined in the Apostles Creed. The Apostles creed states that God is the creator of both heaven and earth, and that Jesus Christ is his only son, conceived by the Virgin Mary. The Creed then goes on to talk about the death of Jesus Christ and his rebirth; it finishes on the topic of the Holy Spirit and the immortality of the soul.

The Eleventh Day

The eleventh day is remembered through “Eleven pipers piping”, which to most looks like nonsensical lyrics written purely for entertainment purposes;  the eleven pipers actually represent the eleven Apostles that stayed true to Jesus after the betrayal and treachery that was caused by Judas.

The Tenth Day

“Ten lords a leaping” are the lyrics that portray the tenth day and the gift that is traditionally given on this day. However, the ten lords are said to be the Ten Commandments that were given to Moses by God, whether this is actually true has not been determined, but the idea of the ten commandments makes more sense than giving ten leaping lords to your “one true love”.

The Ninth Day

The ninth day and the ninth gift are defined by “Nine ladies dancing”. The real meaning behind the phrase “Nine ladies dancing” is the nine fruits of the holy spirit. These are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

The Eighth Day

The eighth day is presented to us by the lyrics “eight maids a milking”; these lyrics are also considered odd as it isn’t considered normal to purchase eight milk maids for somebody you love. The milk maids are the eight beatitudes – the teachings that were given by Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

The Seventh Day

The seventh day is the day in which “seven swans a swimming” are given; these swans indicate the seven sacraments – a sign of the sacred. The seven sacraments are anointing of the sick, baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, holy orders, marriage and reconciliation, these are considered important and should be followed as part of the Christian faith.

For more information on the traditions of Christmas check back often or get in touch with us here at UK Christmas world – keep your eyes peeled for Twelve Days of Christmas Part 2!

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