Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all . . . and a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2000, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures, and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform, or sexual preference of the wishee.
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When most people hear of "The 12 days of Christmas" they think of the song.
This song had its origins as a teaching tool to instruct young people in the meaning and content of the Christian faith.
From 1558 to 1829 Roman Catholics in England were not able to practice their faith openly so they had to find other ways to pass on their beliefs.
The song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is one example of how they did it.
"The 12 Days of Christmas" is in a sense an allegory. Each of the items in the song represents something of religious significance. The hidden meaning of each gift was designed to help young Christians learn their faith.
The song goes, "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me..."
The "true love" represents God and the "me" who receives these presents is the Christian.
The "partridge in a pear tree" was Jesus Christ who died on a tree as a gift from God.
The "two turtle doves" were the Old and New Testaments another gift from God.
The "three French hens" were faith hope and love - the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (I Corinthians 13).
The "four calling birds" were the four Gospels which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.
The "five golden rings" were the first five books of the Bible also called the "Books of Moses."
The "six geese a-laying" were the six days of creation.
The "seven swans a swimming" were "seven gifts of the Holy Spirit." (I Corinthians 12:8-11, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4:10-11)
The "eight maids a milking" were the eight beatitudes.
The "nine ladies dancing" were nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)
The "ten lords a-leaping" were the Ten Commandments.
The "eleven pipers piping" were the eleven faithful disciples.
The "twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of the Apostles' Creed.
Christmastide extends from the anniversary of the birth of Christ, officially established as December 25 by the Western church, to the Feast of the Epiphany twelve days later, January 6, which celebrates the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles in the persons of the Magi. This joyous period was popularly called the "Twelve Days". It included New Year's Day, traditionally a time when midwinter fertility rites were performed as the season moved from barren winter toward burgeoning spring. The Twelve days also embraced more somber religious occasions such as the anniversary of the and the Massacre of the Innocents. But even these are overlaid with festivity, and generally speaking the time is one of revelry, eating, the exchange of gifts, and feasting. In short, the events and customs usually associated with Christmas are spread across the Twelve Days.
In the Church, as in the synagogue, the day technically begins at sunset.
Therefore, Christmas begins at sundown on 24 December, which we very appropriately call 'Christmas Eve.' The Christmas Season,
which begins with Christmas Eve, ends on the eve of Epiphany, which is sundown on 5 January.
Therefore, Christmas lasts twelve days, and the period from sundown on 24 December to sundown on 5 January is called the Twelve
Days of Christmas.
The tradition of giving a gift on each of the twelve days is pretty much gone. However, in some parts of the world and in some families, the tradition of giving Christmas gifts on each of those twelve days persists.