12 Days of Christmas

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In some places it is traditional to give Christmas gifts for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Since Eastern Orthodox traditions use a different religious calendar, they celebrate Christmas on January 7th and observe Epiphany or Theophany on January 19th. By the 16th century, some European and Scandinavian cultures had combined the Twelve Days of Christmas with sometimes pagan festivals celebrating the changing of the year.

These were usually associated with driving away evil spirits for the start of the new year. In some church traditions, January 5th is considered the eleventh Day of Christmas, while the evening of January 5th is still counted as the Twelfth Night, the beginning of the Twelfth day of Christmas the following day. Twelfth Night often included feasting along with the removal of Christmas decorations.

In some cultures, the King's Cake was part of the celebration of the day of Epiphany. The popular song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is usually seen as simply a nonsense song for children with secular origins.

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However, some have suggested that it is a song of Christian instruction, perhaps dating to the 16th century religious wars in England, with hidden references to the basic teachings of the Christian Faith. They contend that it was a mnemonic device to teach the catechism to youngsters.

Ray Conniff - 12 Days Of Christmas Lyrics

The "true love" mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the "days" represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn. However, many have questioned the historical accuracy of this origin of the song The Twelve Days of Christmas.

What Are the 12 Days of Christmas?

While some have tried to debunk this as an "urban myth" out of personal agendas, others have tried to deal with this account of the song's origin in the name of historical accuracy see Snopes on The 12 Days of Christmas. There is little "hard" evidence available either way. Some church historians affirm this account as basically accurate, while others point out apparent historical and logical discrepancies. The reality is that the "evidence" for both perspectives is mostly in logical deduction and probabilities.

Lack of positive evidence does not automatically provide negative evidence.

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On the other hand, logical deduction and probability do not provide proof either. One internet site devoted to debunking hoaxes and legends says that, "there is no substantive evidence to demonstrate that the song 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' was created or used as a secret means of preserving tenets of the Catholic faith, or that this claim is anything but a fanciful modern day speculation. The view of the song as a secret catechism is most likely legendary or anecdotal. Without corroboration and in the absence of "substantive evidence," we probably should not take overly rigid positions from either perspective.


It is all too easy to turn the song into a crusade for personal opinions. That would do more to violate the spirit of Christmas than the song is worth. So, for the sake of historical accuracy, we need to acknowledge the likelihood that the song had secular origins. However, on another level, this should not prevent us from using the song in celebration of Christmas. Many of the symbols of Christianity were not originally religious, including even the present date of Christmas, but were appropriated from contemporary culture by the Christian Faith as vehicles of worship and proclamation.

Perhaps, when all is said and done, historical accuracy, as important as that might be on one level, is not really the point.

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  6. Perhaps more important is that Christians can celebrate their rich heritage, and God's grace, through one more avenue during the Advent and Christmas seasons. After all, is that not the meaning of Christmas anyway? O n the 1st day of Christmas my true love sent to me In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge that 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!

    How often would I have sheltered you under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but you would not have it so. O n the 2nd day of Christmas my true love sent to me Two Turtle Doves The Old and New Testaments, which together bear witness to God's self-revelation in history and the creation of a people to tell the Story of God to the world. O n the 3rd day of Christmas my true love sent to me O n the 4th day of Christmas my true love sent to me Earlier English versions have "colley birds" or blackbirds. There are other versions as well. O n the 5th day of Christmas my true love sent to me O n the 6th day of Christmas my true love sent to me When do the 12 days of Christmas begin?

    What does the Feast of the Epiphany celebrate? Wonder What's Next? Join us in Wonderopolis tomorrow as we learn to play some beautiful music! Try It Out Are you "a leaping" to learn more? Explore the 12 days of Christmas with a friend or family member when you check out the following activities: Let's face it. In today's world, you're probably not going to get excited if you unwrap a present and discover it's a partridge in a pear tree.

    Instead, you might be hoping for the latest "must-have" electronic gizmo. To help your one true love, make a list of 12 presents you might actually like to receive this year. Share your list with a friend or family member. What do they think? Is a new smartphone better than some turtle doves? Does your family observe special traditions during the winter holidays?

    What are they? What do you look forward to every year? Spend some time talking with family members about their favorite traditions and holiday memories. What special memories do you want to make with your loved ones this year? How much do you love your one true love?

    Enough to give all the presents in the 12 Days of Christmas song? If that's what you've got in mind, we hope you saved your money this year! Jump online to check out the PNC Christmas Price Index , which estimates the actual cost of giving all the gifts in the popular song. What do you think? Maybe a trip to the mall might be a better option? Did you get it? Test your knowledge. Wonder Words gift tree wish list carol verse appear gadget poultry classic lyrics certain electronic recognize imagine tradition countdown observation Take the Wonder Word Challenge.

    Join the Discussion. EMMA Feb 19, Chloe Dec 11, Miaya Dec 5, What are some good wonders that are recommended for the Christmas season? Wonderopolis Dec 10, MIchael Dec 20, Wonderopolis Jan 2, Wonderopolis Dec 18, Wonderopolis Dec 6, Wonderopolis Dec 22, Before you submit your comment, please remember: Be respectful. We will not publish comments that bully, tease, or are mean-spirited. Stay on topic. Ask yourself, "Does my comment relate to this Wonder of the Day? Please do not post usernames for gaming platforms, YouTube, etc. Our privacy policy is to delete those comments to protect our users that's you!

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    The 12 Days of Christmas Tickets, Multiple Dates | Eventbrite

    Your Comment. Related Wonders for You to Explore Match its definition: something a person gives without wanting anything in return; a present. Word Match Congratulations! Share results. Play Again Quit. Next Question. See your results.