The 12 Days of Christmas


When teaching, Jesus Christ often spoke in parables.  The parables Jesus used were brief, succinct stories that illustrated eternal moral and heavenly truths. A professor I once had describes parables as “earthly stories with a heavenly meaning.”   So, with that in mind, I want to share one of my favorite Christmas songs with an added Christian twist to the meaning:

On the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, whose birthday we celebrate on December 25, the first day of Christmas. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge that feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, recalling the expression of Christ’s sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: “Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered you under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but you would not have it so . . . .” (Luke 13:34)

On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Two Turtle Doves

The Old and New Testaments, which together bear witness to God’s self-revelation in history and the creation of a people to tell the Story of God to the world.

On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Three French Hens

The Three Theological Virtues: 1) Faith, 2) Hope, and 3) Love (1 Corinthians 13:13).  Plus, it can also represent the Trinity: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Four Calling Birds

The Four Gospels: 1) Matthew, 2) Mark, 3) Luke, and 4) John, which proclaim the Good News of God’s reconciliation of the world to Himself in Jesus Christ.

On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Five Gold Rings

The first Five Books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch: 1) Genesis, 2) Exodus, 3) Leviticus, 4) Numbers, and 5) Deuteronomy, which gives the history of humanity’s sinful failure and God’s response of grace in the creation of a people to be a light to the world.

On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Six Geese A-laying

The six days of creation that confesses God as Creator and Sustainer of the world (Genesis 1).

On the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Seven Swans A-swimming

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: 1) prophecy, 2) ministry, 3) teaching, 4) exhortation, 5) giving, 6) leading, and 7) compassion (Romans 12:6-8; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:8-11)

On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Eight Maids A-milking

The eight Beatitudes: 1- Blessed are the poor in spirit, 2- those who mourn, 3- the meek, 4-those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 5- the merciful, 6- the pure in heart, 7- the peacemakers, 8- those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. (Matthew 5:3-10)

On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Nine Ladies Dancing

The nine Fruit of the Holy Spirit: 1. love, 2. joy, 3. peace, 4. patience, 5. kindness,
6. generosity, 7. faithfulness, 8. gentleness, and 9. self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Ten Lords A-leaping

The ten commandments: 1. You shall have no other gods before me; 2. Do not make an idol; 3. Do not take God’s name in vain; 4. Remember the Sabbath Day; 5. Honor your father and mother; 6. Do not murder; 7. Do not commit adultery; 8. Do not steal; 9. Do not bear false witness; 10. Do not covet. (Exodus 20:1-17)

On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Eleven Pipers Piping

The eleven Faithful Apostles: 1. Simon Peter, 2. Andrew, 3. James, 4. John, 5. Philip, 6. Bartholomew, 7. Matthew, 8. Thomas, 9. James bar Alphaeus, 10. Simon the Zealot, 11. Judas bar James. (Luke 6:14-16). The list does not include the twelfth disciple, Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus to the religious leaders and the Romans.

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Twelve Drummers Drumming

The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles’ Creed: 1- I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. 2- I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. 3- He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. 4- He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell [the grave]. 5- On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 6-He will come again to judge the living and the dead. 7- I believe in the Holy Spirit, 8- the holy catholic Church, 9- the communion of saints, 10- the forgiveness of sins, 11- the resurrection of the body, 12- and life everlasting.

So, now, whenever you hear what you may have thought was only a secular “nonsense song,” you will be reminded of the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, working in transforming your life and still working in our world as our sovereign Lord.  After all, isn’t that the true meaning of Christmas anyway?