Today I learned something new about a very famous Christmas song. I always assumed that the song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was describing a man’s love for a woman and the extent that he went to prove it. Today I learned that it really was a ‘code’ song for children to learn their catechism. During the years between1559 until 1829, it was against the law for Catholics to practice their religion in England. In order to continue to teach their Catholic children the basic beliefs of their faith, each day of the witty song characterized by something else with the appropriate number, in reality were tenets of their faith. For example:
"the partridge in the pear tree represented the one bird who willingly sacrificed his life for his young
the two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments
The three French hens stood for faith, hope, and love.
The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The five golden rings represented the first five books of the Old Testament, which describe man’s fall into sin and the great love of God in sending a Savior.
The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation., etc…" (Ann Ball, HANDBOOK OF CATHOLIC SACRAMENTALS
Skillfully this very clever underground church maintained a very important teaching all to the tune of catchy melody.
This reminded me what Jesus said concerning an unjust steward:
And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light." Luke16:8 (KJV)
We are presently handling over our children to the culture of this age through the sights and sounds of this generation. The 16th-19th century Catholics were powerless against changing the laws of England, but they were not helpless. Neither are we.