Did you know that the song “The 12 Days of Christmas” is a coded message used to teach Catholic children about the bible during the Anglican Reformation in England? According to one website:
“Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829 were prohibited by law to practice their faith either in public or private. It was illegal to be Catholic until Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England in 1829[…] The 12 Days of Christmas is in a sense an allegory. Each of the items in the song represents something significant to the teachings of the Catholic faith. The hidden meaning of each gift was designed to help Catholic children learn their faith. The better acquainted one is with the Bible, the more these interpretations have significance.”
It then lists the different days and what they mean:
1 Partridge in a pear tree = Jesus Christ2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists 5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the 'Pentateuch' which contain the law condemning us of our sins.6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation7 Swans A-swimming = the gifts of the Holy Spirit: Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Spirit10 Lords A-leaping = the Ten Commandments11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed
Isn’t that interesting?
No, it’s not.
Because it’s completely fucking wrong. And nothing about it makes any sense. I could go into great detail outlining why this whole idea is so completely batshit crazy, but most of what I say would be cribbed from the excellent Snopes article on this very subject. And here it is -
Go ahead and read it. I’ll wait…..Done? Welcome back. Did you like that? Wasn’t the final sentence just the best thing you’ve ever read? If you didn’t read it, basically it says that the song was likely a memory game people played in the days when the ball and cup game was the pinnacle of entertainment. One person named a gift (“A partridge in a pear tree”), and the next person added to it before repeating the previous gifts (“Two turtle doves/and a partridge in a pear tree”), and on around the circle adding more and more until people couldn’t keep it going anymore. Just like Simon. Aren’t I clever?
Anyway, by now I’ve taken up about 10 minutes of your time, and I’m sure you’re wondering why. Well, I’ve been hearing this particular myth for some years now, and I’m truthful enough to say that the first time I heard it, I sort of believed it. I mean, that song must be about something, and it’s in our nature as humans to seek out the origins of things. Case closed. And I didn’t think about it again AT ALL for a couple years.
Then, one boring day, I happened upon the article listed above and my eyebrows raised, I put the information into the part of my mind where I keep useless factoids, and once again I didn’t think about it again. But I’ll be damned (no pun intended) if the following Christmas this story didn’t spring up like a bloody pox. I must have had to sit through five or six different people rattling off this claptrap, their voices the very definition of matter-of-fact as enthralled audiences nodded along with self satisfied shit eating grins on their faces*. And you may not be able to infer from my typical blog posts, but I’m actually not the type of person who likes correcting people to their faces, especially in public. There’s rarely any point to it. So I let it go, hoping that one day they would figure out the truth (and quietly hoping that a far bigger asshole than me who KNEW the truth would get the satisfaction of telling them.)
Basically though, for me it all comes down to two things – First, stop telling me how hard it is to be a Christian and trying to illustrate your point with ridiculous tales like this. Nobody cares, least of all me, and I will kick you in your crotch regardless of your gender. And second, if you’re going to devote your life to something (like a religious faith) at least have the decency to do the fucking research. Every year people piss and moan about how commercial Christmas is, and how we need to put Christ back into it. And if you believe that, good. Good for you. Don’t stop believing in something. Just make sure that something isn’t some shit somebody made up.
*Note: This sentence contains WAAAAYYYYYY too much description. But I just really want you to understand. Forgive me.