On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me twelve Drummers Drumming.
symbolism // The Twelve Drummers and the final verse of the song refers to the doctrine of the Apostle’s Creed: belief in God the Father almighty, belief in Jesus Christ his only Son – our Lord, that Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, that He suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was crucified, died and was buried, then he descended into hell, that he rose again the third day, that he ascended into heaven, that he is seated at the right hand of the Father, that he is to come to judge the living and the dead, belief in the Holy Ghost, belief in the holy Catholic Church and the communion of saints, belief in the remission of sins, and belief in the resurrection of the flesh and life eternal. It can be said that by using the image of the drummers drumming relates to the reiteration of this creed on a regular basis as a Catholic to an almost musical rhythm.
On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me eleven Pipers Piping.
symbolism // The Pipers are said to represent the original 11 Apostles of Christ: Peter, James, John, Andrew, Phillip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, Jude, and Simon. Judas was the 12th but was replaced by Matthias after his betrayal. Some argue that this symbol doesn’t have any religious context at all but represents nightingales instead. These birds’s songs are related to piping in nature and can convey a sense of cheeriness or sadness. This idea of duality is carried by the number 11.
On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ten Lords-a-Leaping.
symbolism // The Lords-a-Leaping are thought to symbolize the Ten Commandments. By personifying the commandments as “Lords” denotes a sense of authority while using the action of “leaping” in conjunction with this idea adds a sense of fun and pleasure to obeying the rules of the church.
On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me nine Ladies Dancing.
symbolism // The Ladies Dancing represents the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. This symbol can also be read as passion and courtship, conveying the message of living life to the fullest and finding peace in joy.
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me eight Maids-a-Milking.
symbolism // The Maids represent the eight Beatitudes, found in the Holy Bible. They are: Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek, blessed are they who mourn, blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the clean of heart, blessed are the peacemakers, and blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’s sake. The beatitudes are meant to nourish our spirituality and uplift our souls.
On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me seven Swans-a-Swimming.
symbolism // The Swans can represent two aspects of the Catholic Faith. On one hand they are said to symbolize the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord. As well as the seven sacraments of Catholicism: Baptism, Communion, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Marriage, Ordination, and the Ritual of Last Rights. Some also believe that due to a swans elegance and mystery, they were referring to the seven planets known at the time of the song’s creation.
On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me six Geese-a-Laying.
symbolism // The Geese are said to represent the Creation Story in Genesis. The 6 days God spent building the universe is symbolized by the geese giving birth as well as creation cycle of life: birth, death and rebirth. And how suiting is it that the number 6 is a spiraling curve that can also be seen a circular symbol of the cycle of life.
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me five Golden Rings.
symbolism // The Golden Rings hardly needs any explanation to the receiver! However, this gift has a reference to the first five books of the Holy Bible known as Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. It is also said that they are related to another
type of bird, either the ring-necked pheasant or the “Gold Spinks”, which is an old name for “Goldfinches”.
On the forth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four Calling Birds.
symbolism // The Calling Birds represent the four Gospels and their writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Some say that “calling birds” is a misnomer for “Colly Birds”, a black crow representing mystery and darkness. In early times black birds were a plentiful food source, often baked into pies, making it an appropriate gift for the holidays.
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me three French Hens
symbolism // During Elizabethan rule over England, the French Hen was a priceless poultry. This aristocratic standing led to their later symbolism as faith, love, and hope, or their personification as the goddess in three forms; virgin, mother and hag. In religious context, they are said to represent both the Holy Trinity, and the three gifts the Magi brought to Christ: Gold, frankincense, and myrrh.