Last night on Facebook I was joking around with a friend about how ridiculous about one of the lines in the song “The 12 Days of Christmas” is when he schooled me and told me about the true meaning behind the lyrics.
I was more than a little shocked to find out what those lines really meant and now have a greater appreciation for those ten lord a-leaping!
According to Catholic News Agency, the song was actually used between 1558 until 1829 by Catholics who could not practice their faith openly. It was a way to teach children about Catholic beliefs secretly.
For instance, the ten lords a-leaping was a coded way to remind children of the Ten Commandments.
I further researched the song and many sites say that the song was probably first secular in nature, but that doesn’t mean that it was not used by Catholics to teach children the faith. Many times throughout history Catholics took secular things and gave them meaning with their faith. Take the Christmas tree as an example. Some early pagans in Poland believed that evergreen trees were linked to a good harvest; and in Scandinavia particular trees were linked to the god Thor.
I think it’s fascinating to see where our traditions come from. Ours is a rich history. And learning about the secret catechism of the 12 Days of Christmas gives me a new appreciation for that particular Christmas carol.
It doesn’t, however, replace my favorite Christmas carol, which is O, Holy Night. What’s your favorite Christmas carol? Please share!