What Are The 12 Days of Christmas? The Story Behind the Famous Celebration:
As December rolls in, Christmas spirit is seen everywhere one’s eyes can see. Lightings are hung in the streets, the stores are filled with sweets, and tantalizing Christmas gifts and songs that heighten the spirits can be heard from everywhere.
The excitement rises to its height on New Year and then it suddenly disappears. But Christmas is not at all like this in traditional celebrations. Below is the summary of how traditional Christians celebrate their Christmas. Also, What are the 12 Days of Christmas?
The 12 Days of Christmas in the Traditional Christian Celebration:
Christmas, traditionally, isn’t a day celebration but a celebration of 12 whole days. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and then lasts for nearly a month. The cycle starts on December 25 and ends on January 5. in some countries, the 12 days begin on 26th December and ends on 6th January.
According to church, the 12 days indicate the time between the birth of Christ and the night before Epiphany also called “Twelfth Night.” These 12 Days have been celebrated in Europe since before the middle ages. Each day traditionally is a feast day for a saint and is celebrated accordingly. The days and celebrations are something like this:
1st Day – 25 December: Christmas Day:
The 1st day of Christmas celebrated on the 25th of December signifies the Birth of Jesus. It is the day people gather around with their friends & family and be grateful for the birth of his Son, Jesus Christ.
2nd Day – 26 December: Boxing Day/ St Stephen’s Day
The 2nd day of the celebration also known as the Boxing Day celebrates St Stephen. St Stephen was the very first Christian martyr who died for his faith. On this day the Christmas Carol “Good King Wenceslas” is played.
3rd Day – 27 December: St John the Apostle
The 3rd day celebrates St John the Apostle on 27th December. St John was one of Jesus’ most valued disciples and also a friend. He was the youngest of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus.
4th Day – 28 December: The Feast of the Holy Innocents
The 4th day of the celebration that occurs on the 28th December is in the name of innocent who have been killed by King Herod. On this day people remember these baby boys who met an ill-fate in King’s pursuit of Baby Jesus.
5th Day – 29 December: St Thomas Becket
The 5th day is celebrated in the memory of St Thomas Becket. He was 12th-century Archbishop of Canterbury who was murdered on 29th December 1170, for the crime of challenging King’s authority over the Church.
6th Day – 30 December: St Egwin of Worcester
The 6th day of the celebration conducted on the 30th December is spent remembering the St Egwin of Worcester. St Egwin comes from a noble and possibly has connections with the Mercian kings. He led a life devoted to God and in his pursuit protected orphans and widows.
7th Day – 31 December: New Year’s Eve
Also known as the Hogmanay in Scotland the New Year’s Eve celebrates Pope Sylvester I, one of the earliest popes of the 4th Century. On New Year’s Eve, people play traditional games and take part in sporting competitions. The most common sport played on this day is Archery.
8th Day – 1 January: Mary, the Mother of Jesus
On the 8th day, the first day of January the celebration is named to Mary, the mother of Jesus. According to the Bible as well as the Quran, Mary was a virgin chosen by God to give birth to Jesus. The incident is also one of the miracles of Jesus Christ.
9th Day – 2 January: St. Basil the Great & St. Gregory Nazianzen
The 9th day of Christmas celebrates two great monks of 4th century Christians. They both played very important roles to increase faith.
10th Day – 3 January: Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus
The 10th day celebrates Jesus’ official naming in the Jewish Temple. The day is celebrated on 3rd January in different churches on a fairly wide scale.
11th Day – 4 January: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
The 11th day of Christmas is celebrated in the memory of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. She is the very first American saint of the 18th &19th centuries.
12th Day – 5 January: Epiphany Eve/ St. John Neumann
The 12th day famously known as the Epiphany Eve celebrates the first American Bishop of the 19th century.
The 12 Days of Christmas in the Famous Christmas Carol
Christmas carols are an essential part of the Christmas celebrations. But one of the carols that you probably heard every single year is “The 12 Days of Christmas”. Who wrote the song is still unknown however it was first heard in 1780. The song is about 12 different presents received by “True Love” and is said to be coded guide for Catholics.
According to the Christian Resource Institute, each day and its presents refer to some aspect of the Christian Faith. The 12 Days of Christmas in the song means something like this:
1st Day – True Love & A Partridge In A Pear Tree
The song starts with “On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree,”. In this first line, true love symbolizes God and the partridge symbolizes Jesus Christ.
2nd Day – Two Turtle Doves
Two turtle doves mentioned in the song refer to the Old and New Testaments.
3rd Day – Three French Hens
The Three French hens are the three gifts of faith, hope, and love.
4th Day – Four Calling Birds
The Four Calling Birds are the four gospels.
5th Day – Five Golden Rings
The Five golden rings are the Books of Moses.
6th Day – Six Geese A-Laying
The Six Geese A-Laying sybolize the six days of creation.
7th Day – Seven Swans A-Swimming
The Seven Swans A-Swimming signifies the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
8th Day – Eight Maids A-Milking
The Eight Maids A-Milking are the eight beatitudes.
9th Day – Nine Ladies Dancing
The Nine Ladies Dancing signifies the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
10th Day – Ten Lords A-Leaping
The Ten Lords of A-Leaping are the 10 Commandments.
11th Day – Eleven Pipers Piping
The Eleven Pipers Piping are the 11 apostles of Jesus Christ.
12th Day – Twelve Drummers Drumming
The Twelve Drummer Drumming points toward the twelve commands in the Apostle’s Creed.
Hope this article answers your curiosity about “12 Days of Christmas” both traditionally speaking and the ones in the song.