So we all hear about the Twelve Days of Christmas, starting on Christmas Day, either through the song or through our church. Many of the liturgical days and seasons last more than just the day. Easter is not just the day, but it’s the season. Christmas, like Easter, is not just the day. It’s twelve days leading us to the Epiphany. Along the way we have a day commemorating the The Name of Jesus. All important times, but the Christmas season officially ends on the Epiphany, the day we celebrate the coming of the magi. (That’s really good news for those of us that really do not feel like taking down the Christmas decorations yet).
Before we start talking about the beloved song, please let me invite you to comment on Facebook or send me a note if you are interested in having an Adult Forum that talks more about the Liturgical Year!
Now, onto the song…
Do you know all the gifts given by the singer’s “true love” in the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas?
1st Day of Christmas: A Partridge in a Pear Tree
2nd Day of Christmas: Two Turtle Doves
3rd Day of Christmas: Three French Hens
4th Day of Christmas: Four Calling Birds
5th Day of Christmas: Five Golden Rings
6th Day of Christmas: Six Geese a-Laying
7th Day of Christmas: Seven Swans a-Swimming
8th Day of Christmas: Eight Maids a-Milking
9th Day of Christmas: Nine Ladies Dancing
10th Day of Christmas: Ten Lords a-Leaping
11th Day of Christmas: Eleven Pipers Piping
12 Day of Christmas: Twelve Drummers Drumming
That would be the modern version of the song - yet much did not change from the original version found in the children's book (1780). Except the calling birds, which were originally “four colly birds,” where “colley” was an English expression for “black.”
For many years now, there have been hypothesis and rumors about what these days and gifts actually represent. Some say that each gift represents something connecting to the chatacheisal studies of Roman Catholic Children when it was outlawed in Protestant states. Others talk about how each gift somehow represents a particular bird or event for the day it is attributed to.
My research shows that all those hypotheses and theories are really great thoughts but lead us back to the same thing...it’s a pretty fun song to try to sing from memory. Therein lies the point, it’s a fun song.
Remember what I said about Advent all those weeks ago?
“If we wait, preparing ourselves for the joy of the birth of Christ this Advent, we will be gifted with not just the birth of a messiah, but we will be gifted with the small things that come from the joys of that morning when all is made new again.”
We spent four weeks of Advent trying to fight off the rush of the season, trying to fight off society's attempt to commercialize the joy and fun of Christmas by telling us to hurry around and buy stuff. We spent time in prayer and song on Wednesday followed by festive community gatherings - enjoying one another’s company. Learning that Advent and church have other components than just prayer and worship. We learned more about one another, we learned more about our community. We succeeded in getting ourselves ready for Christmas.
What the song teaches us is that Christmas did not just end on Sunday.
It keeps going - even if we are once again told by society that the season is over.
We get twelve more days to celebrate. To come together in worship, song, and community.
Remember that unto us a child was born - unto us a savior given. Why would we just stop celebrating on the day of his birth? Why would we ever stop celebrating the presence of Jesus Christ in our world? Why should we consider stopping the work we have already accomplished in joyous fellowship and community gathering - even if we may not do so on Wednesdays?
Throughout this new year, I challenge us to keep the momentum. To keep gathering together in community wherever or however it may be. Continue praying and singing, continue this forward momentum we started. Who knows what this coming year has for us? I, however, know this coming year is going to be great!
Joy and fun should not be words that we shy away from. Though our liturgical seasons change, just like the season of winter will slip into spring, we can continue to hold onto the joy and fun of the Christmas season.
Yours in Christ