What does 12 days of Christmas mean?
What does 12 days of Christmas mean? The time between the birth of Christ and the day the Magi or three kings were said to arrive in Bethlehem is what most people consider.
When do 12 days of Christmas start?
These days start on Christmas Day when Jesus is born. Most celebrate this day on December 25th.
When do 12 days of Christmas end?
The 12 days of Christmas end on January 6th, twelve days after Jesus was born. It is believed that the wise men or magi would have traveled for twelve days. January 6th is known as The Epiphany or Three Kings Day. In some regions of Spain, Europe, and Latin America it is more widely celebrated than Christmas Day.
12 Days of Christmas Religious Meaning
No one knows exactly when and why the song was written. Most believe it began as a children’s memory game in French. Around 1780 an English version was first printed in the children’s book, Mirth without Mischief. It was a poem without music where children played a game reciting each new phrase while remembering the previous one.
The actual items of each day have changed with different versions.
In 1979, a Canadian hymnologist, Hugh D. McKellar said the 12 Days of Christmas lyrics were a way for Christians to learn about their faith from 1558 to 1829. During this time, Christianity was against the law. therefore the 12 days of Christmas was a type of secret code that represented different aspects of the Christian faith. There was no evidence given for this claim, however. In 1982, however, Hal Stockert wrote an article suggesting the use of the twelve gifts could be used to teach different aspects of the Christian faith.
Religious Meanings to the 12 Days of Christmas
- The partridge in the pear tree represents Jesus
- The 2 turtle doves signify the Old and New Testament.
- The 3 French hens are Faith, Hope, and Charity,
- The 4 calling birds are the four gospels.
- The 5 golden rings are reportedly the first five books of the Old Testament
- The 6 geese represent the six days of creation
- The 7 swans are the gifts of the Holy Spirit,
- The 8 maids are the eight blessings Jesus gave at the Sermon on the Mount
- The 9 ladies dancing are the nine different fruits of the Holy Spirit
- The 10 lords are the Ten Commandments
- The 11 pipers represent the eleven faithful apostles
- The 12 drummers drumming are the twelve points of the doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed.
What are 12 days of Christmas lyrics? The lyrics have changed over the years. Wikipedia offers an excellent chart of the different variations. Also, Dawn Stephens Books offers a coloring book with Little Pot for the 12 days of Christmas. Consequently, the images follow these lyrics:
On the 1st day of Christmas, the potter gave to me 1 partridge in a pear tree.-Little Pot’s 12 Days of Christmas
On the second day of Christmas the potter gave to me 2 turtle doves,
and I partridge in a pear tree.
On the 3rd day of Christmas the potter gave to me 3 French hens, 2 turtledoves,
and 1 partridge in a pear tree.On the 4th day of Christmas, the potter gave to me 4 calling birds, 3 french hens, 2 turtledoves, and 1 partridge in a pear tree.
… continuing through …
On the 12th day of Christmas, the potter gave to me 12 drummers drumming, 11 pandas
piping, 10 frogs a leaping, 9 dancers dancing, 8 cows a milking, 7 seven swans a swimming,
6 geese a laying, 5 golden rings, 4 calling birds, 3 french hens, 2 turtledoves,
and I partridge in a pear tree.
Download a FREE copy of the Lyrics and a coloring sheet.
How many gifts in the 12 days of Christmas?
The 12 days of Christmas can make for a fun math game of multiplication and addition. The gifts multiply each day. Then, added to the previous day. Therefore, by the end of the twelfth day, the recipient did not get one partridge in a pear tree, but 12 partridges in 12 pear trees. Moreover, the 9 ladies dancing given on the 9th day were given again on the 10th, 11th, and 12th day. Therfore, there is a total of 36 dancers dancing (9X4). 364 gifts were given and received once all the repetions are counted.
- 12 partridges in pear trees (1 X 12 days)
- 22 turtle doves (2 X 11 days)
- 30 French hens (3 X 10 days)
- 36 calling birds (4 X 9 days)
- 40 golden rings (5 X 8 days)
- 42 geese a laying (6 X 7 days)
- 42 swans a-swimming (7 X 6 days)
- 40 cows a milking (8 X 5 days)
- 36 dancers dancing (9 X 4 days)
- 30 frogs a leaping (10 X 3 days)
- 22 pandas piping (11 X 2 days)
- 12 drummers drumming (12 X 1 day)
It can also be fun to graph each gift and compare the amounts. Most children do not realize that at the end of the 12 days there are more geese and swans than drummers.