Twelve Days of Christmas

Most people know the Christmas season song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and treat it as simply a fun song.

But it may well be a song designed to teach the catechism to children during the 16th century. There is no hard evidence either way.

Those who say that the song was a Christian teaching vehicle believe that the "true love" mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself.

The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith.

Each of the "days" represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn...

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Day 1 (Christmas Day).  The partridge in a pear tree is supposed to remind one of Jesus, whose birth we celebrate on December 25.


Christ is depicted as a mother partridge, which fakes injury to lure predators from her helpless babies.


Two Turtle Doves

The Old and New Testaments


Three French Hens

The Three Theological Virtues (1 Corinthians 13:13), Faith, Hope, and Love


Four Calling Birds

The Four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.


Five Gold Rings

The Pentateuch or Torah (first Five Books of the Old Testament): Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.


Six Geese A-laying

The six days of creation.


Seven Swans A-swimming

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:6-8; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:8-11)


Eight Maids A-milking

The eight Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10).  Blessed are:


Nine Ladies Dancing

The nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.  (Galatians 5:22)


Ten Lords A-leaping

The ten commandments (Exodus 20:1-17)


Eleven Pipers Piping

The eleven "good" Apostles. (Luke 6:14-16). The list does not include the Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus to the Romans.


Twelve Drummers Drumming

The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed:

  1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
  2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
  3. who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.
  4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
  5. The third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
  6. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
  7. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
  8. the holy catholic Church,
  9. the communion of saints,
  10. the forgiveness of sins,
  11. the resurrection of the body,
  12. and life everlasting.