Twelve Days

Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
December 2, 1992

One of the holiday’s best-loved songs, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” marks the longest holiday in the Christian calendar — the time between Christmas Day and Epiphany, celebrated on January six.

The song’s origin is unknown, but some believe the song was written to help Catholic children remember various articles of faith. These are:

True love

A partridge in a pear tree

Two turtle doves
Old and New Testaments

Three French hens
Faith, Hope, and Charity

Four calling birds
Four Gospels

Five golden rings
The first five books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, which records the history and laws of ancient Israel

Six geese a-laying
Six days of Creation

Seven swans a-swimming
Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, or the Seven Sacraments

Eight maids a-milking
Eight beatitudes

Nine ladies dancing
Nine fruits of the Holy Spirit

Ten lords a-leaping
Ten Commandments

Eleven pipers piping
Eleven faithful disciples

Twelve drummers drumming
Twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles’ Creed

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  1. dbp49 said:

    That’s an interesting take on things, and one that I should be aware of, considering my birthday falls on Epiphany.


  2. Nita said:

    I have never read/heard that before. Interesting.


  3. Bernieshoot said:

    Lovely song


  4. Geez, I wasn’t aware of this and I attended Catholic School for six years. This is fascinating. Thank you for sharing.
    AnnMarie 🙂


  5. WOW I didn’t know !! This is really awesome. Thank you for posting it!


  6. Amazing that every number through twelve is represented by important concepts of Christianity. Some of the imagery is also significant. For example, God surely is our “true love,” and from him comes every good and perfect gift (James 1:16). Other imagery is more difficult to reconcile with the concept. For example, eight maids a-milking don’t seem to have much connection to the beatitudes! Maybe someone should rewrite the lyrics to match image and concept more closely! 🙂


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