2014 Blog Entries

The 12 Days of Christmas

In recent days at AK Child & Family, we have had several conversations regarding the meaning of the 12 days of Christmas. When does it start? When does it end? And, how might we celebrate the healing work we do through the framework of this old carol?

The piece of research we found most touching informed us that from 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote the “12 Days of Christmas” as a catechism song. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of the Church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which could be remembered. This little tid-bit of info was found by our Chief Administrative Officer, Rob Morris, who happens to hail from England himself.

According to Ann Ball’s book, “Handbook of Catholic Sacramentals,” we learned that:


The “True Love” one hears in the song is not a smitten boy or girlfriend but is the Christ Child, because truly Love was born on Christmas Day.

The partridge in the pear tree also represents Him because that bird is willing to sacrifice its life if necessary to protect its young by feigning injury to draw away predators.

The two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments. The three French hens stood for faith, hope, and love.

The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The five golden rings represented the first five books of the Old Testament, which describe the great love of God in sending a Savior.

The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit-----Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

Nine ladies dancing were nine fruits of the Holy Spirit-----Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Mildness, Fidelity, Modesty, and Chastity.

The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.

The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful Apostles.

The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in The Apostles’ Creed.

So here we are on Christmas Eve! In celebration of the Good News that Love’s Pure Light is upon us, here is our AK Child & Family rendition of the old Christmas song:


On the first day of Christmas, we brought to our students:
The gift of our undivided attention

On the second day of Christmas, we brought to our students:
The gift of enthusiasm

On the third day of Christmas, we brought to our students:
The gift of creative energy

On the fourth day of Christmas, we brought to our students:
The gift of doing lots of fun things

On the fifth day of Christmas, we brought to our students:
The gift of unconditional care

On the sixth day of Christmas, we brought to our students:
The gift of lots of hugs

On the seventh day of Christmas, we brought to our students:
The gift of learning new things

On the eighth day of Christmas, we brought to our students:
The gift of helping with homework

On the ninth day of Christmas, we brought to our students:
The gift of peaceful surroundings

On the tenth day of Christmas, we brought to our students:
The gift of healthy exercise

On the eleventh day of Christmas, we brought to our students:
The gift of honest communication

On the twelfth day of Christmas, we brought to our students:
The gift of finding a new way

In the midst of celebrating Advent with our students, we have examined the ways that the presents we receive on Christmas morn are really symbols of a far greater gift…the gift of the Bethlehem Child who is born to set people free. Like the hidden meanings in the “12 Days of Christmas,” our giving and receiving at Christmastide calls us to see and experience the world from a godly point of view where God’s hope, peace, love and joy are a constant gift.