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From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly.  Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism for young Catholics.  It has two levels of meaning:  the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of the Church.  Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

- The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ

- Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testament

- Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love

- Four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

- Five golden rings recalled the first five books of the Old Testament

- Six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation

- Seven swans a swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit – prophesy, serving, teaching, exhortation, contribution, leadership and mercy

- Eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes

- Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control

- Ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments

- Eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples

- Twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed  

A Very Merry Twelve Days of Christmas Everyone.

Cynthia Rowland - Facial Fitness Expert
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