A "How Come Li'dat?" Report

Did you ever wonder what were the actual 12 days of Christmas? Okay, maybe you didn't... But maybe you thought to yourself, why would anybody ever want 10 Lords A-Leaping? I'd take the 9 Ladies Dancing and maybe even the 8 Maids A-Milking, but the 12 Drummers Drumming would just irritate The Swans, Geese, and Partridge and other fowl.

Even more ridiculous is the Hawaiian version of the song which has 10 cans of beer (yeah, I want my kids singing about that), and 12 televisions (real Hawaiian, why not 12 Sony Playstations?).  I decided to do a little bit of research about the what the real 12 days of Christmas represent and came up with the following (taken from

Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829, when Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England, were prohibited from ANY practice of their faith by law - private OR public. It was a crime to BE a 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, since, if you were caught with anything in 'writing' indicating adherence to the Catholic faith could not only get you imprisoned, it could get you hanged, or shortened by a head - or hanged, drawn and quartered.

The songs gifts are hidden meanings to the teachings of the faith. The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn't refer to an earthly suitor, it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge which feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, much in memory of the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so..."

The other symbols mean the following:
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
--Fr. Hal Stockert 12/17/95

Now that you know, doesn't the Hawaiian version seem even more ludicrous? Unfortunately, like a lot of the Hawaiian music now, all someone did was take a mainstream song and "Hawaiianize" it with lyrics that make no sense whatsoever.  So much for originality...

From now on, instead of wondering what the Twelve Days of Christmas actually are, you can reflect upon the songs true meaning. You can also be thankful that we don't have the same type of religious persecution today in the U.S..  Let's hope that somewhere in Afghanistan, some child will never have to compose their own "12 Days of Christmas" to hide their faith.

Merry Christmas from!