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Have a Merry Christmas Season

"Mankind is a great, and immense family....this is proved by what we feel in our hearts at Christmas."

- St. Pope John XXIII

I was driving through my neighborhood on the way to the gym and noticed my neighbor's Christmas Tree on the curb in front of their house. I thought to myself, what day is it? Is it New Years Day, the day after? No, it was only December 27th - two days after Christmas. Wondered why my neighbor would have thrown out their Christmas Tree so soon. Maybe it was really dry, maybe the needles were falling out, or maybe they needed more room in the house after getting so many presents? I really wasn't sure what the reason was and it's really none of my business, but I am sure they had a good reason. As I was driving further down the road, that's when the famous Christmas song popped into my head...."On the 1st Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a Partridge and a pear tree..."

The 12 Days of Christmas. This is one of my favorite songs to listen to before and after December 25th. But what does the song really mean? Have you ever given it much thought? What do four calling birds and three french hens have to do with anything? Does that even pertain to modern day times? My curiosity made me look it up online. I have heard from my friends at church that it had to do with hidden meanings and that Christians were persecuted for their faith years ago. The history of the song dates back to the middle ages.

The Christmas Carol originated from the time in England when Christianity was persecuted and not allowed in the country. During the time of 1558-1829, Catholics were prohibited from practicing their faith by law, private or public. It was a crime/illegal to be Catholic. The Twelve Days of Christmas was written in England as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith - a memory aid. The song has hidden meanings that refere to the faith and the Catechism. The "True Love" in the song does not refer to a suitor, but God Himself. The rest of the song is as follows:

2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments 3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues 4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists 5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace. 6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation 7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments 8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes 9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit 10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments 11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles 12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed. And the patridge in a pear tree referes to Jesus Christ.

In Conclusion: The joy of Christmas could not be stopped or celebrated even if it was illegal five hundred years ago. Even if it meant that English Catholics would be tortured, jailed or even killed. God's love is so powerful, so intense, and so full of life that Christians came up with a clever way of celebtrating the birth of Christ through hidden meanings. Let your light shine in the world today. Even if it's not illegal, people need to know the Love of Christ, especially in a hurting world that we live in.

About the Author: Donna L. Marotto is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Faith Formation Director and Lay Franciscan. Her blog comes out on the last Monday of the month. She also has a podcast called Love Changes Everything that can be found on Buzzsprout, Google podcast, Spotify, and Amazon music. You can listen here: Her book, Love Changes Everything can be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. If you would like to contact her: email is

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