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Enjoy this light humored learning along with great Christmas songs and loads of merry wishes for you at Christmas!
What in the world does a Partridge, calling birds, swans a-swimming, (uh, what are we watching here, the Nature channel?), and five gold rings have to do with Christmas?
Why do we need "twelve drummers drumming?"
Wasn’t there only one little drummer boy?
Which Christmas symbol is associated with a choirmaster (choir director) and a lot of talkative children?
So many questions and we only have thirty minutes to pack in the answers!
The Twelve Days of Christmas
Background – Teaching the Catholic faith was outlawed in sixteenth-century England. One could get in deep trouble if caught, so the church went underground. The clerics or clergy continued to teach, but had to figure out creative ways to do so. They began composing poems that seemed silly to most people, but within the writings, they were able to still teach God’s word through code words and creativity. The song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was originally a poem and was one of those teaching tools, full of codes locked inside what seemed to be crazy phrases.
The twelve days of Christmas begins on Christmas Day, December 25 and the final day is January 5. For Christians who lived during this difficult time, the twelve days of Christmas was a very holy time. It was a time of renewal and rededication. Gifts were given to children that were simple, yet symbolic of their Christian faith.
Let’s have a little fun and take a short 15 question quiz of the Twelve Days of Christmas!
- Who is the "true love" in this song?
- Prince Charming from the fairytale, Cinderella
- Princess Buttercup’s farm boy in the movie "The Princess Bride"
- Who is the person who receives the gifts in this song?
- Anyone who listens to the song
- No one, the song is make believe
- Anyone who has accepted Jesus Christ as the only Son of God and Savior of their life
- On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me … a partridge in a pear tree. A Partridge in a pear tree represents:
- A bird in a tree
- A colorful bus carrying a family of singers
- Jesus, the Son of God
- On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me … two turtledoves. Two turtledoves represent:
- I don’t know what the heck a turtledove is
- A slow four legged creature with wings
- The Old and New Testaments of the Bible
- On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me … three French hens. The three French hens were:
- Three small chicken like birds given for Christmas dinner
- The song really meant to say, three French HORNS. You know, the first instrument heard in the "Little House on the Prairie" theme song
- Faith, hope, and love
- On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me … four calling birds. The four calling birds represent:
- The stone-age way of calling someone on the telephone using birds, as seen in the historically accurate cartoon, The Flintstones
- John Travolta and three of his T-Bird friends in the movie, Grease
- The four Gospels in the Bible, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
- On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me … five gold rings. The five gold rings are:
- A ring for each finger on one hand
- One nose ring, one naval ring, two earrings, and one toe ring
- The first five books in the Old Testament
- On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me … six geese a-laying. The six geese a-laying are:
- A new set of animals for your new farm
- Symbolic of the sextuplets you will have
- The six days that God took to form Creation
- On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me … seven swans a-swimming. The seven swans a-swimming represent:
- The first Olympic competition of synchronized swimming
- More animals for your new farm
- The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, and compassion.
- On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me … eight maids a-milking. The eight maids a-milking represent:
- The new farm hands you will get to help with the geese, swans, and of course, the cows
- Eight ladies who deliver milk
- Everyone from servants to those of royal blood who receive Jesus as Savior and Lord.
- On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me … nine ladies dancing. The nine ladies dancing represent:
- The Nutcracker Ballet
- The female dancers on the show, Dancing with the Stars
- The gifts known as the fruit of the Spirit.
- On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me … ten lords a-leaping. The ten lords a-leaping are:
- The dance partners for the ladies dancing
- Ten men playing leap frog
- The Ten Commandments
- On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me … eleven pipers piping. The eleven pipers piping were:
- The first verse to a tongue twister song
- Eleven men smoking pipes
- The original eleven disciples of Jesus who were faithful.
- On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me … twelve drummers drumming. The twelve drummers drumming were:
- The little drummer boy and all his brothers
- Ricky Ricardo and his band at the Tropicana
- Tied directly to the Catholic Church as the Twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles’ Creed
- What do the twelve days represent?
- An excuse to get twelve gifts every Christmas
- Twelve days of vacation during Christmas
- The complete picture of the Christian faith
Answers: All Answers were "C"
- The "True Love" in the song is God.
- The person who receives the gifts in this song is:
Anyone who has accepted Jesus Christ as the only Son of God and Savior of their life.
- Partridge in a pear tree represents: Jesus, the Son of God.
We celebrate His birthday on the first day of Christmas. A partridge was chosen to represent Jesus because it is the only bird that will die to protect its young.Two turtledoves represent: The Old and New Testaments of the Bible.These twin birds represent the Old and new Testaments of the Bible. This gift offered is God's complete plan for mankind.
- The three French hens were:
Faith, hope, and love.In the famous love chapter in the Bible, I Corinthians 13, it beautifully explains the pure and genuine love of God, and these other two important qualities that we also should have, the greatest being love.
- The four calling birds represent:
The four Gospels in the Bible which are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
- The five gold rings are:
The first five books in the Old Testament also known as the Pentateuch.
- The six geese a-laying are:
The six days that God took to form Creation Each egg is a day that God took to form or give birth to Creation
- The seven swans a-swimming represent:
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, and compassion.
- The eight maids a-milking represent:
Everyone from servants to those of royal blood who receive Jesus as Savior and Lord.In England during the time this song was written, a milkmaid was one of the worst jobs to have. This gift proved that Jesus cared about all people. 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. This is found in the Bible in Matthew chapter five.
- The nine ladies dancing represent:
The gifts known as the fruit of the Spirit.According to Galatians 5 in the Bible, the nine fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
- The ten lords a-leaping are:
The Ten Commandments. For the Catholics during the time this song was written, lords were judges and in charge of the law. The Law here is the Ten Commandments.
- The eleven pipers piping were:
The original eleven disciples of Jesus who were faithful.There were originally twelve disciples, but Judas betrayed Jesus and then committed suicide, so this verse recognizes the first faithful eleven who went on to tell the world about Jesus, and God’s love for mankind.
- The twelve drummers drumming were:
Tied directly to the Catholic Church as the Twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles' Creed. The Catholic's recognize something called the Apostles' Creed which says, "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. He descended into hell. 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. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting."
- What do the twelve days represent? The complete picture of the Christian faith.
Congratulations! You Passed!
Which Christmas symbol is associated with a choirmaster (choir director) and a lot of talkative children?
Research any tradition and you are sure to find many myths and legends. One of the most reliable legends of the candy cane began in Germany around 1670. According to the church records at Germany’s Cologne Cathedral, their choirmaster (choir director) was facing some of the same problems in his choir and congregation that we face today. The children in the choir always became restless and noisy as the church service went on. (Sound familiar?) He was determined to find a positive way to keep the children quiet.
He decided to visit a local candy maker’s store and to his pleasure saw the white hard candy sticks. He knew that the children loved this hard candy and it also took them a long time to eat! But he faced a problem. He just knew that the priests and parents would not be happy with him giving the children candy in the sanctuary. Then he came up with a creative plan. He asked the candy maker if he could make the same white candy sticks but bend then at the top. To his delight the candy maker did just that.
Just before the Christmas Eve service, the choir director told the priest and the congregation about these brand new treats he had for the children which also served as a unique teaching tool. He said that the pure white color represented the sinless life of Jesus. The crook at the top of the cane helped the children remember the shepherds that visited Jesus on the night of His birth, since the shepherds carried staffs.
The adults were thrilled with this sweetly inspired idea and from here began the association with the candy cane and Christianity.
Where'd the red stripes come from?
But, as you know, our candy canes have red stripes on them. For years and years, hard candy was only seen in solid colors because it was a long and tedious process to mix the colors by hand. In the 1920’s, in Albany, Georgia, a man named Bob McCormick figured out a way to hand- twist multiple colors into the candy cane. The practice caught on from there.
Then, an Indiana candy maker heard of an old legend of a red and white candy cane that was used in England to identify Christians. Matching his own Christian beliefs, he began making the red and white candy canes in his store. The tiny three stripes represented the Trinity of God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. They also represented the redeeming blood of Jesus. The hook represented the shepherd’s staff and the white was symbolic of the purity of Jesus. He also said that when turning the cane another way, the "J" stood for Jesus.
The candy cane is still a savory treat and is probably one of the few Christmas traditions that symbolize the real meaning of Christmas.
From All of Us to All of You..
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