One of the very merry Carols of the Christmas Season is a delightful naming of the 12 Days of Christmas.
What have leaping lords, French hens and geese-a-laying to do with Christmas? From 1558 until 1829 Roman Catholics in England and Ireland were not permitted to openly practice their faith. A gifted and creative catechism teacher invented the 12 Days of Christmas carol as a sort of code to remember the religious truths of their faith.
The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ.
The two turtle doves are the Old and New Testaments.
The three French hens are Faith, hope and love.
The four calling birds are the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The five golden rings are the Torah, or the Law, the first five books of the Old Testament (also called the Pentateuch).
The six geese-a-laying are the six days of creation.
The seven swans a-swimming represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. These can also represent prophesy, serving, teaching, exhortation, contribution, leadership and mercy, as in the seven corporal and spiritual works of mercy. They may also represent the seven Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation/Confession, Holy Orders, Matrimony, the Sacrament of the Sick.
The eight maids a-milking are the eight beatitudes.
The nine ladies dancing are nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace. patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
The ten lords-a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.
The eleven pipers piping were the eleven faithful apostles.
The twelve drummers drumming represent the twelve points of belief in the Apostles Creed.
I am a Catholic Sister, a Daughter of St. Paul. I grew up in the USA Midwest. I have lived in several states--from Boston to Hawaii, to Alaska, to Texas. I was blessed to have studied in Rome, Italy for almost a year. I have been several times to Guam, once to Samoa, once to the island of Chuk, which was once called Truk.
I was stationed in Toronto, Canada. Now I am in the USA. For now I am assigned to Boston. I work in our Pauline Books and Media sales dept. and I write regularly for our digital, on-line newsletters. I also serve in our Dedham, Mass. Pauline Book and Media Center.I am also available for retreats and public speaking.
"The Media can be used to proclaim the Gospel, or reduce it to silence in the human heart." From Aetatis Novae, Pontifical Council for Communications, 1992 The Pauline Family is to be St. Paul living today. Blessed James Alberione, Founder