The Twelve Days of Christmas

So at the beginning of the week, I was trying to think of something fun to do with my kindergarteners for Christmas.  I was looking at the book shelf and found a book with beautiful pictures for the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”  This brought back memories of going to Grandma Osborne’s house for Boxing Day (the day after Christmas–it’s an English thing; my grandmother was from London.)  We didn’t go often for Boxing Day, but the one thing I remember doing every time we did go was the Twelve Days of Christmas.  My Aunt Jackie would get up front and dance out the Twelve Days.  We would have what seems like a million people in the front room dancing out each day from twelve drummers drumming to a partridge in a pear tree.  So it was this dance that I have taught the children in school, and not just the kindergarteners.  I first explain the story in Romanian….which they just think is hilarious, especially the eighth day where my true love gives me “eight maids a-milking” but no cows.  Then we dance and by “five golden rings” they are singing along.

I recently read a book about the history of Christmas carols.  One of the stories was about The Twelve Days of Christmas.  The song was sung by 16th century Catholics  to teach children catechism.  It was illegal to be Catholic in England in the 16th century  and to write and speak about Catholic catechism would lead to imprisonment or death.  So each verse had hidden message  and isn’t just a silly song about silly gift.  “My true love” is..you guessed it, God Almighty.  The “partridge in the pear tree” is Jesus on the cross, because a partridge mother will sacrifice herself for her children.  What a wonderful song, when we know the real meaning behind the words.  The book is called: Stories Behind the Best-loved Songs of Christmas by Ace Collins.  I swear, I’ll never hear the Twelve Days of Christmas the same again.

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One Response

  1. Cool!! Those catholics are sooooo tricky. Seriously, these religious issues are the ones that made it so important for our founding fathers to ensure the US had religious freedom. From their point of view, they meant no religion could be outlawed by the government. They never imagined atheists and their ilk would use freedom of religion arguments to remove all religion from the the view of the public.

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