On this, the Twelfth Day of Christmas, as we complete the song and the explanation behind each "gift" as well as the fact that the alleged catechetical code behind the song is likely an invention of the 1990s and the Internet - let us not be looking so hard to find a negative.
|Image credit: dreamstime.com|
The alleged catechetical meaning behind the 12th Drummers drumming is the 12 Articles of Faith in the Apostles Creed. These 12 articles are not exclusive to the Catholic Faith, in fact, they are widely held by most Christians throughout the Christian world.
Now, rather than draw attention to the likely fact that this myth was born in the 1990s on the Internet, and rather than find fault in the alleged logic put forth in the 1990s that this song was born out of persecution - why not just accept that there can be a deeper Christian message behind the 12 gifts? Clearly the song marks the (largely Catholic) celebration of the 12 days between the birth of Jesus Christ to the celebration of the coming of the Magi on Epiphany, January 6th - so love the song for its Christian roots!
Another song, similar in nature and from about the same time is the "New Dial Song" (c. 1625 AD). Perhaps some of the musings from this other ancient song have had some influence on the 1990s legend of the 12 Days of Christmas? Here are the words to the "New Dial Song:"
What are they that are but one?
We have one God alone
In heaven above sits on His throne.What are they which are but two?
Two testaments, the old and new,
We do acknowledge to be true.What are they which are but three?
Three persons in the Trinity
Which make one God in unity.What are they which are but four
Four sweet Evangelists there are,
Christ’s birth, life, death which do declare.What are they which are but five?
Five senses, like five kings, maintain
In every man a several reign. What are they which are but six?
Six days to labor is not wrong,
For God himself did work so long.
What are they which are but seven?
Seven liberal arts hath God sent down
With divine skill man’s soul to crown. What are they which are but eight?
Eight Beatitudes are there given
Use them right and go to heaven. What are they which are but nine?
Nine Muses, like the heaven’s nine spheres,
With sacred tunes entice our ears. What are they which are but ten?
Ten statutes God to Moses gave
Which, kept or broke, do spill or save. What are they which are but eleven?
Eleven thousand virgins did partake
And suffered death for Jesus’ sake. What are they which are but twelve?
Twelve are attending on God’s son;
Twelve make our creed. The Dial’s done.
I will close this posting on the Twelfth Day of Christmas with the reminder, it is STILL CHRISTMAS! Christmastide lasts through most of the Season of Epiphany, and ends on February 2nd - Candlemas - which is the last time in the liturgical year that the nativity is mentioned in the readings of the lectionary. So, keep your decorations up a bit longer, at least some of them, as a reminder that we are still celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!