Although there are some people who have already packed up their Christmas trees and put away all the decorations in the church we are continuing to celebrate Christmas!You may recognize the 12 days of Christmas most from the song of the same title – but did you know that Christian scholars believe the song was written by a Christian cleric to teach about the gifts God has given us.Christmas liturgically in the church has 12 days. After the Advent Season of Preparation once Christmas comes – it’s time to let loose and Feast – not just for one day but 12! I’m writing this to make you all feel better about the chocolates and sweets of this season – it’s feasting time in the church – The Lord has come! Historically also the 12 days of Christmas were a period of re-dedication and renewal to God who came amongst us in the flesh, and by so doing empowers us in our flesh to live lives that are holy and true. A great thought for anyone who makes new year’s resolutions! The end of the twelve days from Christmas day falls upon the Feast of Epiphany on Dec. 6th each year. This is the day when we recognize the visit of the wise men from the East who came with gifts for the newborn King. For Orthodox Christians – Epiphany, the culmination of the 12 days of Christmas is a public holiday and the key Christmas day, taking precedence over December 25th as the day of feasting and celebrating.
In the song – The “true love” mentioned is not a sweetheart but represents God.The gifts are:
- Partridge in the pear tree – Jesus is symbolically presented here as a mother partridge, the only bird that will die to protect its young.
- Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments
- French Hens = Faith, Hope and Love, the three theological virtues from 1 Corinthians 13
- Calling Birds = the Four Gospels
- Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the “Pentateuch,” which gives the history of man’s fall from grace.
- Geese A-laying = the six days of creation, when God “hatched” or formed the world.
- Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit from 1 Corinthians 12
- Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes found in Matthew 5
- Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23
- Lords A-leaping = the Ten Commandments
- Pipers Piping = the 11 faithful apostles
- Drummers Drumming = the 12 points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed
Looked at this way it gives us something new to think and ponder on. As we come to the new year – I wish you a holy and joyous Christmastide! Prayer: Lord and Giver of all good things, the magi travelled for miles to bring the Christ child the first Christmas presents. So may we, too, remember with thankful hearts the love that comes with each present we open. We also thank you for the love you have for each of us, and the many gifts that you give us, especially the gift of life itself. Amen. — Author unknown