The popular song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is usually seen as simply a nonsense song for children with secular origins. 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. 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.
It is certainly possible that this view of the song is legendary or anecdotal. Without corroboration and in the absence of “substantive evidence,” we probably should not take rigid positions on either side. So, for 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.
Whatever you believe there is no denying the popularity of the song or it’s common use in todays society. Over the following days I’ll share a little of the information about the lyrics that I’ve been able to source.