The Christmas Carol known as “The Twelve Days of Christmas”
History informs us that from 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly and had to resort to discrete forms of communication.
It is believed that this particular Carol, fell into this category and was written anonymously for the purpose of providing a catechism for young Roman Catholics. The thought apparently was that by singing the Carol they would be able to state & reinforce their beliefs.
Being Freemasons we are very familiar with these TWO levels of communication: namely the Exoteric (apparent to all) and the Esoteric (requiring an in-depth search for the hidden meaning)
The information provided below has been shared with me, and while I have no way of verifying its validity, it is a beautiful story and as such very worth sharing.
You will note that I have not seen it necessary to place numbers beside each verse.
The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
Two turtle Doves were the Old Testament and New Testaments.
Three French Hens stood for Faith, Hope & Love.
The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, (Pentateuch) the first five books of the Old Testament.
The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
Seven swans-a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit (Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy)
The eight maids-a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit- i.e. (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control)
The ten lords-a-leaping were the ten commandments
The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.
It seems to me that each time human beings are faced with intolerance and discrimination they seem to be able to come up with very unique ways to manage, and still get their message across.
Possibly this Carol would not exist today if it were not for the conditions in place at that time, however, it does speak to the conviction of Freemasonry regarding the “Universality of Man”