As near as I can tell this is the 7th day of the twelve days of Christmas. To me New Year’s has always been an intrusion into the holiday rather than a part of it but that’s just me. Staying up until midnight to watch a tick on the clock change has never had much appeal. But the twelve days of Christmas is different and thinking about the song of the same name is fascinating as well. I never thought of it before but I heard an English Broadcast recording of a song in which what it really means to get a partridge in a pear every day for 12 days really is like. At the end there are 364 presents. There are 40 maids milking and one assumes that means there are 40 cows too. It is a fun exercise. Some have given it a more ominous and serious tone. A catholic priest who believes it is a teaching song so that Catholics could remember the faith even when they were being persecuted by the church of England wrote this……………..
“The Twelve Days of Christmas” was written to educate the faithful in the doctrines of the faith and yet not be obvious to the persecutors. The numbers are simply a mnemonic to help Catholics remember some basic facts. Recall the words of the song. “On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: twelve lords a leaping, eleven pipers piping, ten ladies dancing, nine drummers drumming, eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.”
“The Twelve Days of Christmas” celebrates the official Christmas season which starts liturgically on Christmas Day and ends twelve days later on the Feast of the Epiphany. “My true love” refers to God, “me” is the individual Catholic. The “twelve lords a leaping” are the twelve basic beliefs of the Catholic Church as outlined in the Apostles Creed. The “eleven pipers piping” are the eleven Apostles who remained faithful after the treachery of Judas. The “ten ladies dancing” are the Ten Commandments. The “nine drummers drumming” are the nine choirs of angels which in those days of class distinction were thought important. The “eight maids a milking” are the Eight Beatitudes. The “seven swans a swimming” are the Seven Sacraments. The “six geese a laying” are the Six Commandments of the Church or the six days of creation. The “five golden rings” are the first five books of the Old Testament called the Torah which are generally considered the most sacred and important of all the Old Testament. The “four calling birds” are the Four Gospels. The “three French hens” are the Three Persons in God or the three gifts of the Wise Men. The “two turtle doves” represent the two natures in Jesus: human and divine or the two Testaments, Old and New. The “partridge” is the piece de resistance, Jesus himself, and the “pear tree” is the Cross.”
The idea has fallen out of favor for a very simple reason. There is nothing in the song that an Anglican wouldn’t agree with and so the need to somehow keep these tenants of the faith hidden is nonsense; but who wants to be a scrooge on Christmas