The First Day of Christmas

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Ace Collins's book, Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmashas had a great impact on me this season. His chapter on The Twelve Days of Christmas fascinated me so much, that I want to share it here, for the next twelve days. I've written all this ahead of time, so that I can enjoy some focused time with my family. But, just as you may pop on to a blog or two (and I do appreciate you being here!), I will do the same and say hello as time allows.

According to ancient traditions, the first day of Christmas is December 25th and the final day is January 5th. It was a time of rededication and renewal, during the long, cold winter. The poem, later turned into a carol, about these days contains much more than I originally realized.

"Teaching the Catholic faith was outlawed in sixteenth century England . . . the church went underground. To hide the important and illegal elements of their teaching, clerics composed poems that seemed silly to most people. But these verses were veiled woks that taught the church's most important tenants. "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is said to be one of these teaching tools.

The "true love" mentioned in the song is not a sweetheart, but the Catholic Church's code for God. The person who receives the gifts represents anyone who has accepted Christ as the Son of God and as Savior. And each of the gifts portrays an important facet of the story of true faith.

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . a partridge in a pear tree. The partridge in a pear tree represents Jesus, the Son of God, whose birthday we celebrate on the first day of Christmas. Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge, the only bird that will die to protect its young."

(Taken from Chapter 24, The Twelve Days of Christmas, Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas)

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