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The Truth Behind the 12 Days of Christmas

The Conspiracy!

As we celebrate this Christmas with friends and family feel free to surprise them with a bit of trivia. You know a secret code! A code that was hidden out in the open but buried in the words of a common Christmas song.

Through the 16th to 18th centuries, Catholicism was outlawed in England. The vast majority of the general public were functionally illiterate and the church was entrenched in a battle against the so called “Enlightenment Period”. A time when European politics, philosophy, science, and communications were radically reoriented. This period would ultimately culminate in the French Revolution, the founding of American and the Revolutionary War. The world would be introduced to John Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire and Adam Smith.

In the height of this time-period the “Twelve Days of Christmas” was created as a kind of secret catechism that could be sung in public without fear of arrest and serve as a learning or memory aid to Christians. Each verse refers to a teaching of church doctrine. Do you remember the words? How about a little help; “on the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.” Did you realize a partridge was synonymous for dove? In fact, the rest of the code here was that Christ (the dove) who died on a tree was the expression of “True Love” from our Father in heaven who give us all gifts.

The twelve days of Christmas are the twelve days between Christmas Day (Dec 25th), customarily treated as the birth of Jesus and the Epiphany, Jan 6th the day Christians celebrate the arrival of the Magi (Wise Men) and the revelation of Christ as thee light of the world.

Each element in the song is a code word for religious truth:

1. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus.

2. The two turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments. 3. Three French hens stand for faith, hope and love. 4. The four calling birds are the four Gospels. 5. The five gold rings recall the Hebrew Torah (Law), or the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament. 6. The six geese a-laying stand for the six days of creation. 7. The seven swans a-swimming represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. 8. The eight maids a-milking are the eight Beatitudes. 9. Nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. 10. The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments. 11. Eleven pipers piping represent the eleven faithful Apostles. 12. Twelve drummers drumming symbolize the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles Creed.

(Shared with permission from

Our family hopes that you enjoy the freedoms that we have in this great country of ours, share in the joy that is in the salvation found in our Savior, laugh often, hug your family (even the smelly ones), and above all;

Have a Very Merry Christmas!


Scott Hollis

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