On the ____ Day of Christmas My True Love Gave To Me

Who is my true love?

What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics and Orthodox Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of the Church (and here Church does not mean Anglicans - remember, the Anglicans were the ones who forbade Roman Catholics - AND Orthodox Catholics - from practicing the true religion). Each element in the carol has a key word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

The partridge in a pear tree was for Jesus Christ.

The two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

The three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

The seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit -- Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

The nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

Have you figured out just who is your true love, for the song says, "My True Love gave to me . . ."? Why, your True Love is God the Father, who gave to you and to me: His Son; the Old and the New Testament; Faith, Hope and Love; the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Torah; creation; the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit; the beatitudes; the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit; the ten commandments; the eleven faithful disciples; and the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

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