The Twelve Days of Christmas

Adam Howard CBN Europe | Content and Marketing Assistant
by Adam Howard

Content Coordinator, CBN Europe

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I love watching QI on the BBC. It’s full of quirky facts and interesting trivia. So, with Christmas around the corner, and in the spirit of QI, I thought I’d share some ‘quite interesting’ trivia. 

The Origins of the 12 Days of Christmas 

During the historical persecution of the Catholic church in England, practicing believers were forbidden from openly engaging in their religion. In order to maintain beliefs and reinforce Catholic teachings to their children, this song, The 12 Days of Christmas, was written. When you dig deeper into the meanings behind each of the lines, it gives a pretty good outline to the faith. Plus, it could be publicly sung leaving the Protestant oppressor at the time, none the wiser. 

“Five gold rings…and a partridge in a pear tree”

What Does it Actually Mean?

My True Love and the Partridge in a Pear Tree – these both are representations of Jesus. The partridge perhaps most significantly, because it’s a bird that will sacrifice its life to save its children.

Two Turtle Doves – these represent the Old and New Testaments.

Three French Hens – represent faith, hope and love.

Four Calling Birds – the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Five Gold Rings – the Pentateuch; the first five books of the Old Testament.

Six Geese a-Laying – the six days of creation.

Seven Swans a-Swimming – the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Eight Maids a-Milking – the eight Beatitudes.

Nine Ladies Dancing – the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Ten Lords a-Leaping – the Ten Commandments.

Eleven Pipers Piping – the eleven faithful Apostles.

Twelve Drummers Drumming – represent the twelve points of belief in the Apostle’s Creed.


I hope this has cast a new light over this traditional tune. So, as you gather next time around the fire to sing this song, you’ll have a new appreciation for the lyrics and, of course, some great trivia to wow your guests with. 

Have a great Christmas. 

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Happy Christmas from all of us at CBN Europe
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