I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Twelve Days of Christmas

I love music. I love the tapestry it creates using shades of harmony and melody, soprano and bass, pitch and rhythm. Since I was a child, banging away on a toy piano, sending off-key renditions of my favorite songs through our small bungalow, I have had a fascination with music – especially Christmas music.

However, there was one song that had me baffled…The Twelve Days of Christmas. Maybe it was my Protestant upbringing, but I struggled to make the connection between Christmas and drumming drummers, leaping lords, dancing ladies, Swans, Geese, and oh, don’t forget the Partridge in a pear tree…could someone tell me what happened to the traditional pine?

I assumed it had something to do with Christmases gone by, but I didn't realize its significance, until lately. Although there are numerous stories as to why it was created, and it could be argued how the cryptic jingle could be a memory aid to the associated gift - the gifts the song represents are very real.

• 12 Drummers drumming – the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s creed.
• 11 Pipers piping – The eleven faithful disciples
• 10 Lords a leaping – The Ten Commandments
• 9 Ladies Dancing – The nine fruits of the spirit
• 8 Maids a Milking – The eight beatitudes
• 7 Swans a Swimming – The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit
• 6 Geese a Laying – The six days of creation
• 5 Gold rings – The first five books of the Bible, The Pentateuch
• 4 Calling birds – The four Gospels
• 3 French Hens – Faith, hope, and charity, the Theological Virtues
• 2 Turtle Doves – The Old and New Testaments
• Partridge in a Pear Tree – Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord

God has given us so much. He gave us his word, our guiding light – to show us how we are to live. Its message is just as relevant today as when it was written.

He gives us gifts through the comforter, the Holy Spirit.

And, best of all, he gave us his son. Without Jesus, without his sacrifice, we have no hope. He is our Lord, our Savior.

Our Salvation.

So during this Christmas season as we think of the small child, the babe in the manger, I for one will be thanking God for his infinite wisdom in sending us . . . A Partridge in a Pear Tree.

May you have a blessed Christmas, enjoying the gifts of our loving God.

Jennie Atkins

December Contest: We're having weekly contests during December and we're giving away fun prizes! Leave a comment this week and you could win: a journal and a mug containing 3 Starbucks Christmas flavored VIA packets and 3 flavored tea bags. The mug has a photo of an old-fashioned typewriter on it and says: Write your own story. To see a photo of this week's prize, go here.


  1. As soon as I read the first sentence, I knew this had to be your post, Jennie. God gifted you with a beautiful singing voice. Hard to imagine you've ever sung off-key. :)

    Thank you for the reminder about the meaning behind the 12 Days of Christmas.

  2. I had no idea about the awesome meaning behind this popular song. Thanks for sharing so we may all know more about it and share it with others!

  3. Jennie,

    I'm going to share this post with my kids. We love to sing The Twelve Days of Christmas in the car. Thanks for explaining the meaning behind the song!

  4. Great post and LOVE the illustration.
    Thank you, and blessings!

  5. Jennie,

    Thanks so much for sharing this interpretation of this song! I have heard other ways of "unlocking the meaning" of the various "gifts," but this one is wonderful! Thanks so much!

  6. Lisa, Yes I do sing off key - occasionally!

  7. Melody,
    I wondered about this song for years! So don't feel alone.

  8. Roxanne,
    You are welcome. I thought for sure it had something to do with Olde English forklore, so I was surprised when I learned of its spiritual depth.

  9. Dee,
    You can thank the writers of the song! I'm only the messenger!

  10. I never, ever knew this. Now I will sing this song and it will be more than just a silly little Christmas song about leaping lords and milking maids.

  11. How beautifully you drew me into this story. I have heard the meaning many times before and it never ceases to inspire me. I Love this song! Thank you, Jennie, for presenting it so beautifully.

  12. Oh, I LOVE Christmas music too! And that song has constantly baffled me--WHY would a partridge in a pear tree make a good gift from (or to) your loved one? And what's wrong with 'my true love' that he gives you ladies dancing? It makes so much more sense now!

    Thanks for this post--I love it, and will be re-sharing it with friends!

  13. Really great post, Jennie. I never knew that about the song...like Selina, I always wondering what the deal was with that song! :) Although, I think it'd be kinda fun to see 10 lords a'leaping.

    Also, there's an episode of "The Office" (yes, I'm admitting to being a fan) where one of the male characters tries to impress a female character by presenting her with all 12 days' worth of gifts. Naturally, hilarity ensues...

  14. Great post, Jennie. Like Ginger, I've heard the meaning many times and marvel at the ingenuity of our ancestors!Thank you for reminding me again. Love the way you drew us into it.

  15. Beth, I was the same as you for so many years, but as with so many songs, it has a story behind it. Much like the stories we write, they come from someplace in our soul.

  16. Thank you Ginger! Its a beautiful song to help us remember His goodness.

  17. Selina,
    I'm there with you - and how would your beloved know you got the Partridge from the pear tree? To me the song never made sense. Especially as a kid when Pine trees were the symbol of Chrismas.