cymbalta withdrawal and fear zoloft for fibromyalgia spironolactone week before period tetracycline penicillin yellow teeth does zoloft help tmj bactrim vs cipro i only need a tiny ammount of viagra glucophage merck uk xenical gluten nizoral crema tempie how often to take augmentin 1g arimidex czy tamoxifen ciprofloxacin 500mg untuk wellbutrin for ms fatigue cipla viagra female metoprolol en inspanning lisinopril 10mg how long until augmentin is out of system cytotec farmacias del ahorro precio ondansetron 24 mg can i buy this medicine prednisone in line buy amoxicillin veterinary wellbutrin xl sleepiness buy cheap levitra uk cymbalta and atkins diet fluconazole 50mg uk thyroxine 25 mcg ciprofloxacin 500g price does propranolol or metoprolol last longer what is less expensive viagra or cialis kamagra gold opinie do clomiphene tablets work androgel vs viagra can i take garlic and levofloxacin together fluconazole capsule dissolution home substitute for flagyl does naprosyn 500mg get you high does a 7 day prednisone taper cause side effects viagra biochemical pathway ubat kurap nizoral harga acyclovir salep dan tablet cipro allergic reactions why does metformin not cause hypoglycemia ofloxacin bertibarots overnight donde se puede conseguir una cytotec en mexico doxycycline lutera interaction between ciprofloxacin and paracetamol obat azithromycin 500 mg kimia farma unterschied seroquel risperdal what happens if i mix grapefrit juice with buspar withdrawal from lisinopril symptoms how long does it take fluconazole to act viagrakula lampur aap ki adalat arshad madni full episode indication for ciprofloxacin safe to take flagyl and bactrim ketoconazole shampoo color treated hair efectos misoprostol aborto dapoxetine or tramadol cialis y los hipertensos ampicillin vial price philippines quinapril hydrochloride and hydrochlorothiazide tablets sams price for nexium 40 mlg zithromax emea proair versus proventil dr reddys finasteride results walgreens nizoral cream prednisone six pills once a day for five days aciclovir pomada precio espa?a buy metronidazole for dogs without prescription in uk viagra in one day metformin contraindicated in pet scan street value of gabapentin 300 mg cloridrato de ciprofloxacino quantos dias faz efeito lasix intravenous dogs does doxycycline kill 100 percent infection can cytotec be used in 4months pregnancy glucophage 500 metformin zyprexa nasil okunur tamoxifen shrink tumors how to use cytotec in 5 months pregnant tetracycline eye ointment side effects quem nao engravidou com clomid clopidogrel medsafe donde comprar cytotec en ica peru is plavix made in mexico effective cipro 250 mg twice daily for diverticulitis viagra trial voucher is propranolol good with elavil for tension headache can meloxicam cure chlmydia what is the side effects of cephalexin in dogs list of online store in the philippines selling viagra doxycycline mono antibiotic and drinking metronidazole dosage dogs ondansetron and itching prazosin 2.5 dosage side effect icd 9 code for hydrochlorothiazide viagra cost rm cialis online in uk are naproxen 220mg the same as ibuprofen 800mg tadalafil chemical name voltaren retard 75 mg prospecto voltaren para hemorroides cephalexin treatment for folliculitis nervous to start clomid furosemide mylan 216 40 kesan makan cytotec tablet sildenafil 100mg lexapro generic image lawsuits for prednisone can 150mg of levothyroxine cause overdose hydrochlorothiazide 3572 mifepristone misoprostol buy us gum discomfort a side effect of cipro augmentin efficacy in allergic bronchitis correct dosage albuterol infants gabriel lisinopril tablet buying cialis over the counter in melbourne allopurinol lowers cholesterol can lexapro and paxil affect sperm probabilita di gravidanza con clomid meloxicam 2 times a day indomethacin 50 mg no prescription sildenafil citrate 20 mg tablets drinking alcohol after taking single dose fluconazole provera 5mg after abortion flagyl forte untuk ibu menyusui bijwerkingen na stoppen seroquel levitra price walmart safety of montelukast dosing liquid bactrim for dogs taking viagra with a heart stent zithromax will start work after 4 days wich store can i find viagra in nashville tn thuoc tamsulosin hcl 0.2 que forma tienen las pastillas cytotec hair loss after stopping warfarin celexa and weight gain in women clomid generic vs brand albuterol tablet overdose amoxicillin is good for shingles levothyroxine 0.1 mg kegunaan salep acyclovir clomipramine 100mg amoxicilline ethinylestradiol desogestrel what is valacyclovir used to treat cheap strattera pills kamagra mauritius does flagyl cure running stomach robaxin cramps escitalopram 10 mg to get high erythromycin prostate infection metronidazole para la chlamidia bactrim for ulcers pcos low carb diet metformin levitra farmaco bayer doxycycline how many tablets in packets shelf life of amoxicillin 500mg femara cost walmart equine ivermectin injection how soon will doctor prescribe clomid buy levitra pharmacy side effect of clomid tablets symptoms of neurontin overdose foods contain sildenafil can u take to how much furosemide is safe is ginger tea harmful if your taking coumadin xenical 600 mg how much amoxicillin 250mg can i give a 1 year old donde venden pastillas cytotec en caracas sueltas buspirone hcl drug classification benzene in seroquel neurontin makes me drunk much seroquel should take misoprostol online purchase india clomid side effects after buy cialis online from china yahoo answers duromine and metformin post metronidazole discharge myasthenia gravia what antibiotics for pnemunia dutasteride quanto costa amoxicillin himox drug study walmart similar over the counter version of viagra wann beginnen nebenwirkungen von tamoxifen diovan coupons for walmart buy albuterol nebulizer solution furosemide anemia what is stronger viagra misoprostol diarrhea 20 mg vs 5 mg cialis que tomar despues del tamoxifeno doxycycline monohydrate side effects gas cialis mit kokain propecia daily dosage nizoral 60ml cena prednisone 40 mg dosage does nexium cause thrombocytopenia flagyl cancer risk does 100 mg of viagra work better clopidogrel and interstitial cystitis mobic whartisthebestin cost gabapentin neurontin same atarax shortage uk 20mg lexapro insomnia can bupropion cause cholesterol blood pressure medication propranolol side effects harga glucophage 500 mg di malaysia esomeprazole best ppi chloramphenicol 6460 levitra e hipertension arterial aldactone to stop facial hair take prednisone dose pack zyprexa of seroquel buy nizoral 2 shampoo uk take bayer with viagra vestibular neuritis prednisone treatment where can i buy albuterol syrup clomid vancouver who makes atorvastatin for walgreens buspirone hydrochloride bars 30 mg high aldactone effetti collaterali fungi obat wiros piroxicam 20mg lisinopril hctz en espanol duloxetine current supplies uk metoprolol 50mg price philippines topamax buy online what happens if a dog ingests clonidine hydrochloride zyvoxid umbrella can ibuprofen be use with erythromycin took paxil for 6 months can i stop how much is valacyclovir in mexico alcohol consumption while taking lamisil patent litigation esomeprazole trihydrate buy zovirax cream online shta je flagyl does 2.5mg olanzapine cause diabetes lasix efectos secundarios generic online cheap tadalafil 20mg viagra triangle history priligy chile manfaat fargoxin digoxin 025 mg ventolin hfa and sulfa allergy penjual priligy adalat 60 mg price cymbalta hitzewallungen zyprexa 2.5 gabapentin 800 mg coupons verapamil epocrates online how many amoxicillin 500mg do i take a day for clap oratane isotretinoin au if lasix isnt working for cat paw swelling buying clomid online reviews como tomar una dosis de 6 pastillas cytotec class of cipro breast cancer and tamoxifen side effects comparatif viagra cialis prix cat linezolid overnight viagra delivery us baclofen 5 mg tab po hcpc code flomax dementia should i mastbate before taking viagra is there weight gain with abilify filme sobre o viagra what is the half life of lamisil clomid tableti prednisone online prescription viagra szem?lyes ?tv?tel online cialis safety ketoconazole cream good for hair growth harga pil voltaren 50 mg cheap flomax pregabalin gabapentin pharmacokinetics celexa and methadone unat torsemide side effects does gabapentin have to build up in your system how do i know if i need paxil how long does clomid cause hot flashes cialis vomit escitalopram and amitriptyline sildenafil citrate flashback does terbinafine get you high levitra and cannabis side effects flagyl metronidazol para que sirve minipress 5 orlistat 120 mg emagrece mesmo fetus effects of lipitor how long does it take bactrim to treat cellulitis does antibiotic azithromicin interfere with ovulation lekovi za depresiju wellbutrin cialis effetti collaterali forum side effects from roaccutane side effects of septran tablet single strength lopressor onset tengo 5 semana de dmbarazo cuantas cytotec puedo tomar buy alendronate sodium online cough worse after prednisone can zovirax pills treat poison ivy gabapentin and aspirin od iv to po conversion metoprolol ondansetron dosis en perros ciprodin use for naprosyn cr 750 mg 10 tablet nedir qual o generico do bactrim cheap zovirax homeopathic alternative to prednisone for dogs augmentin 3 ani taking amoxicillin trihydrate cause thrush nz puedo tomar alcohol si use cytotec cipro syphilis lamisil skin cream ampicillin for fish uk azithromycin in philippines celexa laboratorio patent on cymbalta is topamax used for depression classification of metformin cyproheptadine tablets sellers. uk zyprexa lowest maintenance dose delusions tamoxifen citrate effect on endometrium como usar viagra para orquideas famciclovir article 30 referral aciclovir sciroppo dosaggio bambini will insomnia from topamax go away benazepril y amlodipina ofloxacin and diarrhea mi dite una bella canzone allegra dapoxetine fda will percocet counteract azithromycin lamisil cream for scalp at the chemists in uk levaquin site of absorption nexium dergboadre uses cymbalta iskustva cialis football commercial voltaren sustained buy fluconazole over the counter amoxicillin rash or heat rash gabapentin side effects half life ciprofloxacin hcl for 30 days levofloxacin wilbury d?simlocker mobile mobicarte orange can youmessage get higgh on levofloxacin canadian viagra email virus non generic viagra amlodipine opiate withdrawal teva prednisone 50 mg for hives where can i get wellbutrin is carrying sildenafil canaberge potassium k coumadin me introduje cytotec pero no sangre zofran melt 4mg ondansetron ulotka definicion de cytotec clonazepam with olanzapine tamsulosin 0.4mg capsules buy metoprolol tartrate online no prescription paxil and buprenorphine sunrise rx tadalafil tablets 20mg will topamax make me fail for suboxine ethinyl estradiol nhs trazodone for sleep in spanish accutane misc voltaren recreational use spironolactone 25 mg per day for how much duaration propecia should be taken i took clomid and my period came less than ma days wellbutrin viagra interaction inderal ver ferienhaus allegra zermatt kesan sampingan exforge 5mg amlodipine 160 valsartan singulair 4mg principio ativo

The Real Meaning of "The Twelve Days of Christmas"

Much more than a haunting melody with nonsensical lyrics, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written by the English Jesuits during the 16th century as a catechetical device.
by Father Edward T. Dowling, S. J | Source:
I’m sure you have all heard the Christmas carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” with its haunting melody. The carol dates back to the 16th century and its precise author is unknown. It has generally been assumed to consist of twelve nonsense verses built around a pretty melody. But in a fascinating article in Our Sunday Visitor (12/20/92), Fr. Gilhooley, a chaplain at St. Mary’s College, informs us that the carol was written by the English Jesuits of the 16th century as a catechetical device and it is far from filled with nonsensical verses.

The carol is akin to the apocalyptic literature of Scripture that used obscure symbols to hide its true meaning from the enemy in time of persecution. To understand the background that gave rise to the carol, let us look briefly at the history of Catholicism in 16th century England.

When Henry VIII was rebuffed by Rome in his bid to divorce Catherine of Aragon to marry Anne Boleyn, he declared himself head of the Church in England replacing the Pope and demanded that all swear an oath of allegiance to him as such. St. Thomas More, the Chancellor of the Realm, the equivalent of the Prime Minister today, refused the oath supporting the elimination of the Pope’s authority and Henry had him publicly beheaded. Catholic convents and monasteries were closed and looted. The situation was worse under his son, Edward VI, and better during the short reign of Catherine’s daughter, Mary Tudor. She was succeeded by her half-sister Elizabeth I, an ardent Protestant, the daughter of Anne Boleyn. The practice of the Catholic faith was banned. Priests were exiled and forbidden under pain of death from returning or performing the sacraments. It was a desperate, dreadful time.

But many priests risked their lives to come back and minister to the flock and many lay Catholics likewise risked their lives and fortunes to hear Mass and have their children baptized. Wealthy families built hiding places, called priests’ holes, in their homes to hide priests in case their homes were raided by the secret police.

The story is told of one priest who was almost caught in a surprise raid. He had just time to squeeze into his hole before the police broke in on the family. The police had obviously received a tip because they went right to the fireplace where the priest’s hole was located. But try as they might, they couldn’t find the entrance. Then in their frustration they ordered a fire to be lit to drive out the priest. When he didn’t emerge, because to do so would subject the host family to prison or death, they ordered more logs on the fire. Eventually all were driven from the room by the intense heat and the police left in disgust. The family rushed to get the priest out of the hole but he was already dead, baked alive. He gave his life under cruel circumstances to save those whom he had come to serve. And he was only one of many.

With this as a background we can see the need for secrecy and deception. “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was written to educate the faithful in the doctrines of the faith and yet not be obvious to the persecutors. The numbers are simply a mnemonic to help Catholics remember some basic facts. Recall the words of the song. “On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: twelve lords a leaping, eleven pipers piping, ten ladies dancing, nine drummers drumming, eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.”

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” celebrates the official Christmas season which starts liturgically on Christmas Day and ends twelve days later on the Feast of the Epiphany. “My true love” refers to God, “me” is the individual Catholic. The “twelve lords a leaping” are the twelve basic beliefs of the Catholic Church as outlined in the Apostles Creed. The “eleven pipers piping” are the eleven Apostles who remained faithful after the treachery of Judas. The “ten ladies dancing” are the Ten Commandments. The “nine drummers drumming” are the nine choirs of angels which in those days of class distinction were thought important. The “eight maids a milking” are the Eight Beatitudes. The “seven swans a swimming” are the Seven Sacraments. The “six geese a laying” are the Six Commandments of the Church or the six days of creation. The “five golden rings” are the first five books of the Old Testament called the Torah which are generally considered the most sacred and important of all the Old Testament. The “four calling birds” are the Four Gospels. The “three French hens” are the Three Persons in God or the three gifts of the Wise Men. The “two turtle doves” represent the two natures in Jesus: human and divine or the two Testaments, Old and New. The “partridge” is the piece de resistance, Jesus himself, and the “pear tree” is the Cross.

Father Edward Dowling is the author of Have You Heard the Good News: Cycle A available through St Pauls –

Reprinted with permission by the publisher. All rights reserved.

Click Here to Donate Now!

Join the new media evangelization. Your tax-deductible gift allows to build a culture of life in our nation and throughout the world. Please help us promote the Church's new evangelization by donating to right now. God bless you for your generosity.




Post a Comment
Published by: Kiwi-Ian
Date: 2013-05-14 22:19:47
I too have heard this origin before and read the responses from Snopes and Urban Legends and various other sources. Essentially, there is no written evidence as to the meaning of this song prior to Hugh McKellar's article in 1979 and Fra Hal Stockert's in 1995. Neither writer provides any real evidence. The song was first published in 1780 with slightly different lyrics (e.g. collie birds in stead of calling birds and it was a partridge AND a pear tree). As for the protestant persecution of catholics, that is unworthy and any historian would find holes. Two British kings in the 17th century were catholic (Charles II and James II) and their father Charles I was married to a Catholic who practised openly. Indeed it was Pope Pius V who banned Catholics worshipping openly in a protestant country in his Bull Regnans in Excelcis of 1570. It wasn't until the late 17th century that most of the laws banning Catholicism came into effect, well after Bloody Mary's death in 1558. The Anglican and Catholic catechisms are practically identical so there was actually no need for a secret one, Catholics could openly use the Anglican one. The story of secret police burning out a priest actually happened in Bohemia, except that the police were Catholic and the priest was a protestant (Hussite) minister! Let's be real, this song is no hidden catechism, it's a counting song for kids.

Published by:
Date: 2013-03-20 22:28:14
As an answer to Dallas Smith: I have read the article wrote by Snopes, and it seems to me it has no documental foundation to his theory. It is true that the article has a lot of historic references about the history of Catholics in England during the worst times of represion, but none about the origins of the song. The only reference he quote regarding the origins of the song is from a Jesuit that claims that he has found the origins of the song while he made a research about other thing in the archives of his congregation. And this article was written by a Jesuit as well. Therefore, maybe the theory of Snopes about the origins of the song might not be that accurate ;) Blessings to all!

Published by: Dallas Smith
Date: 2013-03-06 17:04:17
This is an interesting story but according to Snopes it is not true. Check it out for yourself.

Published by: Mary Darby
Date: 2010-12-15 22:10:11
I've been a Catholic all my life and I never knew the tradition behind this song until now. It's beautiful!!!!

Published by: This article is wonderful, this will help me sing the song with more zeal.
Date: 2010-12-10 13:16:09

Published by: Laurie Bruns
Date: 2010-12-08 19:30:21
I found this extremely interesting as I had no idea this song had real meaning. Thanks so much for having this on the world wide web. There are so many good things to share ~ I wish our media here in the US would figure that out and breathe LIFE versus DEATH and CHAOS.

Write a comment on this article

Email required (will not be published)
required Country

Most Popular