To many the lyrics of the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” seem like a novelty in the vein of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” We are going to take a deeper dive into the hidden meaning of the lyrics of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… a partridge in a pear tree.
The partridge in a pear tree represents Jesus, the Son of God, whose birthday we celebrate on the first day of Christmas. Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge, the only bird that will die to protect its young.
On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… two turtledoves.
These twin birds represent the Old and New Testaments where we find the complete story of our faith and God’s plan for the world.
On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… three French hens.
These birds represent faith, hope, and love. This gift hearkens back to 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter written by the apostle Paul.
On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… five gold rings.
The gift of the rings represents the first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah.
On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… six geese a-laying.
These lyrics come from the first story found in the Bible. Each egg is a day in creation, a time when the world was “hatched” or formed by God.
On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me… seven swans a-swimming.
This one is a bit trickier with the seven gifts represent the gifts of the Holy Spirit: prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, and compassion. As swans are one of the most beautiful and graceful creatures on earth, they would seem to be a perfect symbol for spiritual gifts.
On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… eight maids a-milking.
As Christ came to save even the lowest of the low, this gift represents the ones who would receive his word and accept his grace. Being a milkmaid was one of the worst jobs one could have at the time. Jesus cared as much about servants as he did those of royal blood. The eight who were blessed included the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… nine ladies dancing.
These nine dancers represent the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me… ten lords a-leaping.
This is probably the easiest gift to understand. As lords were judges and in charge of the law, represents the Ten Commandments.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… eleven pipers piping.
This is almost a trick question, as most think of the disciples in terms of a dozen. But when Judas betrayed Jesus and committed suicide, there were only eleven men who carried out the gospel message.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… twelve drummers drumming.
The drummers are the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles’ Creed. “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.