Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thus starts the Twelve Days of Christmas

This doesn't work out so much numerically now. In the USA and other countries Epiphany is now celebrated the first Sunday after New Years. Epiphany is the Sunday the Churchcelebrates the coming of the magi. In times past the twelve days of Christmas referred to the eight days from December 25 to New Years Day and the four additional days up to and including the eve of January 6, the original date of the Epiphany.

Celebrating the birth of such a wonderful Savior should last a while. So it is celebrated until Epiphany. I love hearing the Christmas carols continued after Christmas. It's like a celebration that continues and continues in your heart long after presents have been opened and forgotten.

The song The Twelve Days of Christmas isn't exactly what you would call a Christmas carol but it has an interesting history. I recently realized that people sing that song and do not know what it means or is supposed to mean.  I also, recently realized that people make fun of that song frequently because they do not know what they are singing about..

The story behind the song The Twelve Days of Christmas  could be fact or fiction, there is a lot of controversy over the history of the song. I find it helps me if I can put meaning to the song when I am singing it, otherwise it does seem silly.  There is some belief of Catholic Christian persecution in the 1500's to the 1800's in England causing parents to create a way for their children to remember certain aspects of the faith.
There are those that disagree and say the song  was just something created fun to sing. Other places I read say it started as a French song and the words were later confused. Whether the song was started out to teach tenets of the faith or just a fun song  it still works out as a fun way to teach the faith to children. When later on they  hear the song they can remember to put meaning to what they are singing and remember God and the wonderful gifts he sends us. It could also be a fun way to count down to Epiphany.
The songs gifts have  hidden meanings related to  teachings of the faith. The "true love" mentioned in the song isn't referring to an earthly suitor, it refers to God the Father.  The "me" who is the receiver of the presents in the song refers to every person baptized.  The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In The Twelve Days of Christmas, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge which feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nesting babies, much like Christ's sadness over what would happen to Jerusalem: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so..."

The other symbols mean the following:

2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments

3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues

4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists

5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.

6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation

7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments

8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes

9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit

10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments

11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles

12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

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Dear Lord help us to educate our family for your glory.

"Since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a most solemn obligation to educate their offspring. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. For it devolves on parents to create a family atmosphere so animated with love and reverence for God and others that a well-rounded personal and social development will be fostered among children. Hence, the family is the first school of those social virtues which every society needs."--Gravissimum Educationis (one of the documents of the Second Vatican Council)

Helping and Loving Our Neighbor

Corporal works of Mercy
Feed the hungry

Give drink to the thirsty

Clothe the naked

Shelter the homeless

Visit the sick

Visit the imprisoned

Bury the dead

The Spiritual Works of Mercy
Admonish the sinner

Instruct the ignorant

Counsel the doubtful

Comfort the sorrowful
Bear wrongs patiently

Forgive all injuries

Pray for the living and the dead

Good Samaritain