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Secret code hidden in a well-known Christmas song


Around 10 years ago an article written by Dr Timothy Cross appeared in the 'ReachOut' magazine outlining the origins of this well-known song, 'The Twelve Days of Christmas'. And although I'm sure most of us would consider it to be a rather frivolous ditty it's actually a Christian song written during a time of religious persecution. Each line contains a hidden meaning, understood and appreciated, by Christians. For this reason it could be sung in public without fear of arrest. So here is my abbreviated version of the song in question...


On the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree.

'My true love' represents God the Father and the 'partridge' His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The 'pear tree' represents the cross of Calvary. A mother partridge is said to feign injury to decoy predators from her young, just as God sent His Son to deliver us from eternal harm.


On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two turtle doves.

The 2 turtle doves speak of the Old and New Testaments... the 2 'lips' by which God speaks to us, revealing the way to peace with God and thus the secret of a happy life.


On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me, three French hens.

These stand for the 3 theological virtues of 'faith, hope and love' in 1 Corinthians 13.


On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me, four calling birds.

Represents the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – 4 pen pictures of Christ Jesus.


On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me, five gold rings.

These stand for the first 5 books of the Bible, explaining the origin of all things, the Fall of Man and the way back to God through blood sacrifices... pointing to the sacrifice of Jesus.


On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me, six geese a-laying.

The 6 geese a-laying stand for the 6 days of Creation when God spoke the universe into existence before resting on the 7th.


On the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me, seven swans a-swimming.

These speak of the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit in Romans 12:6-7, namely prophesy, service, teaching, exhortation, giving, helping and acts of mercy. Though no-one has all the gifts - and of course this is by no means an exhaustive list - every Christian has at least one.


On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eight maids a-milking.

These are the 8 Beatitudes with which the Lord Jesus opens the 'Sermon on the Mount'.


On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me, nine ladies dancing.

Representing the 9 'flavours' of the 'Fruit of the Spirit' conforming us to the image of Christ.


On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me, ten lords a-leaping.

These are the 10 Commandments delivered by God to Moses – our Maker's instructions.


On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eleven pipers piping.

The Lord Jesus chose 12 disciples, but only 11 were faithful. He was betrayed by Judas.


On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me, twelve drummers drumming.

This twelfth line was intended to be a surreptitious reminder of the 12 lines of the Apostle's Creed – an early summary of Biblical Christianity – encouraging Christians to persevere.


It's a jolly, light-hearted song certainly. But now you're aware of its hidden meaning you may never sing it in the same way again. There's so much more to it than meets the eye!

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