Ancient origins of a beloved carol
Many works of fiction in satire and verse have had political or religious themes attributed to them through the ages.
The Twelve Days of Christmas, that wonderful, lyrical Christmas song, can be traced to either pagan or Catholic origins.
As late as the 18th Cen- tury several rituals were associated with the tune.
One included treacly sweet substances bursting from baked apples around a pear tree. Another fertility rite in folklore was maidens walking backwards three times around a pear tree.
It is now thought that The Twelve Days of Christmas originated from France, simply because partridges were introduced to England from France and the verse was known there.
However, some believe it is a coded form of the Catholic catechism.
For 14 years, Puritan rule under Cromwell disdained Christmas; Cromwell persecuted Catholics in England and Ireland, but the faith was passed down to children by their parents in this period, perhaps coded in ‘‘harmless’’ songs.
The religious interpretation is:
1. Partridge in a pear tree – the one Christ.
2. Two turtle doves – two Testaments Old and New.
3. Three French hens – three theological virtues: faith, hope and charity.
4. Four Colly birds – the four Gospels and the four Evangelists.
5. Five golden rings – first five Books of the Old Testament.
6. Six Geese a-laying – six days of creation.
7. Seven Swans a- swimming – the seven Sacraments.
8. Eight Maids a-milking – the eight Beatitudes.
9. Nine Ladies dancing – the Nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
10. Ten Lords a-leaping – the Ten Commandments.
11. Eleven Pipers piping – the 11 faithful apostles.
12. Twelve Drummers drumming – twelve points creed doctrine.