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You're all familiar with the Christmas song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" I think. To most

it's a delightful nonsense rhyme set to music. But it had a quite serious purpose when it was



It is a good deal more than just a repetitious melody with pretty phrases and a list of strange gifts.

Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829, when Parliament finally emancipated

Catholics in England, were prohibited from ANY practice of their faith by law - private OR

public. It was a crime to BE a Catholic.


"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "catechism songs" to help

young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith - a memory aid, when to be caught with anything

in *writing* indicating adherence to the Catholic faith could not only get you imprisoned, it

could get you hanged, or shortened by a head - or hanged, drawn and quartered, a rather peculiar

and ghastly punishment I'm not aware was ever practiced anywhere else. Hanging, drawing and

quartering involved hanging a person by the neck until they had almost, but not quite, suffocated

to death; then the party was taken down from the gallows, and disemboweled while still alive;

and while the entrails were still lying on the street, where the executioners stomped all over

them, the victim was tied to four large farm horses, and literally torn into five parts - one to each

limb and the remaining torso.


The songs gifts are hidden meanings to the teachings of the faith. The "true love" mentioned in

the song doesn't refer to an earthly suitor; it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the

presents refer to every baptized person. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of

God. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge which 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! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered

thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so..."

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