By Brandon Zoll
It was the season of Christmas, and yes Christmas is a season and not a day. Christmas, beginning with the celebration of the birth of Jesus, is the season that comes after the season of anticipation known as Advent, being the season of preparation for Jesus’ birth. Meaning, like it or not, it is still Christmas into January. So, if you are reading this and still have your Christmas decorations up, do not be embarrassed or feel lazy. If someone asks you, let them know it is still Christmas after all into January.
Christmas is a season of 12 days. Ever wonder where the idea of the famous Christmas carol the “12 Days of Christmas” came from? It came from the reality that Christmas was a season of celebration and not just a day. It starts Christmas morning on Dec. 25th and continues the Jan. 6th, which is known as the day of Epiphany. Epiphany is the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles through the invitation of the three wise men from afar who were very non-Jewish men—showing clearly Jesus came for everyone.
Epiphany is celebrated by most Christians on the second Sunday after Christmas Day. We celebrated it this past Sunday, Jan. 5 at the Church of God of Exeter.
Regardless of Epiphany, Christmas is a season, and that is the point of this article. The season of the celebration of Jesus’ birth goes into January, which is why we have a carol about the “12 Days of Christmas,” a song that was written in 1780. Now, most have criticized and debunked what I am about to write, but nevertheless, I find it fascinating, and possibly applicable in today’s world in teaching the faith. Turning this song into a pseudo catechism, which is a fancy word to just say teaching.
The myth of this song is it was originally written to help teach the faith to new believers. What does this song have to do with faith you may ask? It is about a bunch of birds and other strange things. I don’t know when or who, but someone gave each day a faith-related meaning. Here is how it breaks down:
The partridge in the pear tree = represents Jesus Christ, who hangs upon a tree for our salvation; two turtle doves = represents the old and new testaments; three French hens = represents the essential virtues of faith, hope, and love; four calling birds = represents the four gospels; five golden rings = represents the torah, which is the first five books of the old testament; six geese a-laying = represents the six days of creation; seven swans a-swimming = represents what Catholic tradition calls the seven gifts of the holy spirit, which are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the lord; eight maids a-milking = represents the eight beatitudes; nine ladies dancing = represents the nine fruits of the spirit; ten lords a-leaping = represents the ten commandments; eleven pipers piping = represents the eleven faithful apostles; twelve drummers drumming = represents the twelve points of doctrine in the apostle’s creed.
Myth or not, I believe this song has something to teach us all about the importance of celebrating Christmas as a season, and not just as a day because when linking these days with these particular meanings it provides us with a great understanding of the fullness of what Jesus has gifted us with every Christmas.
It is a little late this year, but next year after the season of Advent, I challenge you to take some time each day of Christmas with your family and ponder on its meaning from this song. They are biblical after all, and then take some time to pray together as a family in celebration of all Jesus came and did. God bless you and Merry Christmas. It is still Christmas after all.
Brandon Zoll is pastor of the Church of God of Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-592-2631.
Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.