"From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England could not practice their faith openly, so they found other ways to pass along their beliefs. "The Twelve Days of Christmas" became a kind of code song in which each of the gift items represented some aspect of their belief. Thus, the song became a way for young Roman Catholics to learn about their religion and to witness to it.
On the _____ day of Christmas MY TRUE LOVE gave to ME: (The "true love" was, of course, God and the "me" who receives each of these gifts was the Christian.)
- The "partridge in the pear tree" was Christ who died on the tree as a gift from God.
- The "two turtle doves" were the Old and New Testaments, also gifts.
- The "three French hens" were faith, hope and love, the three abiding gifts of the spirit (1 Corinthians 13).
- The "four calling birds" were the four Gospels which "sing" of salvation.
- The "five gold rings" were the first five books of the Bible.
- The "six geese a-laying" were the six days of creation.
- The "seven swans a-swimming" were the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8-11, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4:10-11).
- The "eight maids a-milking" were the eight beatitudes.
- The "nine ladies dancing" were the nine fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
- The "10 lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.
- The "11 pipers piping" were the 11 faithful disciples.
- The "12 drummers drumming" were the points of the Apostles' Creed.