Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The True 12 Days of Christmas

.As we get ready to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, it is a good time to reflect on what it all truly means.  Did you know that the 12 days do not actually begin until Dec. 25th?  It has been said that the song 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' was written by English Jesuits of the 16th century as a catechism song to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith; each of the gifts represented one of the truths of the Catholic Faith.  The numbers are simply a mnemonic to help remember some basic facts.  The Twelve Days of Christmas are actually the days from Christmas Dec. 25 until the beginning of the Epiphany  Jan. 6th.   (The Ephiphany is celebrated on a Sunday so these days may be more or less in certain years now).  The Epiphany is traditionally celebrated as the time the three Wise Men or Magi presented gifts to the young Jesus on what was to become "Three Kings Day". 

In the spirit of the season, my family started a tradition a few years ago to exchange gifts among the adults and play a "Stealing Santa" game when we are together at the start of the holidays.  This is a fun way to exchange gifts among us "older kids" and a chance to get creative with fun and yummy presents for each other (all the kids still get loads of toys and items from their wish lists too).  This year, my oldest brother Joe and his wife Robbin made a gorgeous symbolic Christmas garland that my husband fell in love with being a huge Lover and  collector of all things 'Christmas' (seriously, his middle and confirmation name is 'Santo Nicholas")  and don't get me started on his nutcracker collection ;) The unique thing about this garland is there are numbered gifts tied up in brown paper packages hanging from it representing each of the 12 Christmas days.  My husband was so excited he said he didn't think he wanted to ever open the gifts and keep itaim it's sum old state, but my sister in law Robbin insisted that this was to be part of the fun so we look forward to exploring the true 12 days of Christmas in the upcoming weeks!  This was such a clever gift idea I really wanted to share the it with you.  You simply MUST check out Robbin's etsy page here which has some beautiful items you will fall in love with!! 
My dad was the first owner of this special gift and the kids helped him pull it out of the box.  This great photo was taken by Dianne Chapman Trask - who is like a sister to me! 
Recall the lyrics of the song: “My true love” refers to God, “me” is the individual Catholic. The “twelve lords a leaping” are the twelve basic beliefs and doctrines of the Catholic Church as outlined in the Apostles Creed. The “eleven pipers piping” are the eleven Apostles who remained faithful after the treachery of Judas. The “ten ladies dancing” are the Ten Commandments. The “nine drummers drumming” are the nine choirs of angels which in those days of class distinction were thought important. The “eight maids a milking” are the Eight Beatitudes. The “seven swans a swimming” are the Seven Sacraments. The “six geese a laying” are the Six Commandments of the Church or the six days of creation. The “five golden rings” are the first five books of the Old Testament called the Torah which are generally considered the most sacred and important of all the Old Testament. The “four calling birds” or "collie birds" as  originally used, are the Four Gospels. The “three French hens” are the Trinity or the 3 virtues of faith, hope and charity or the three gifts of the Wise Men. The “two turtle doves represent the two Testaments, Old and New. The “partridge” is  Jesus himself, and the “pear tree” is the Cross.
There are some that may say the history of these lyrics is questionable.  hope it will be accepted in the spirit it was written...As an encouragement to keep your faith alive, 
especially in a day and age when outward expressions of yur faith or a belief could cause others to negate you and in some places can sadly mean someone losing their life
 -may this writing give those that need it some extra love, courage, determination and maybe a smile. 

      Merry Christmas from our home to yours.