Dec 28, 2012

The 12 Days of Christmas (The "Real" True Meaning)

EpiphanybatmanDuring these Twelve Days of Christmas, you'll see a number of e-mails about the alleged "meaning" behind the traditional carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas." While this is my least favorite Christmas song (shades of 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall), there is compelling evidence that this was composed as an underground catechetical ditty. So the Four Calling Birds refer to the four gospels, the Six Geese a-Laying symbolize the six days of creation, and so on.

Of course there's equally compelling evidence that this is complete baloney. See the supposed meanings and the debunking on

Whatever you believe, I have actually done some exhaustive research (and by "exhaustive" I mean that I'm still completely exhausted from all the Christmas services), and have uncovered the "real" true meaning behind this carol.

The Twelve Days of Christmas
(the "Real" True Meaning)

A Partridge in a Pear Tree -- The rector hiding in a tree from coffee hour complaints

Two Turtle Doves -- The two parishioners comprising the parish Peace and Justice Committee

Three French Hens -- The three French ladies who sit in the front row every year at Midnight Mass

Four Calling Birds -- Four members of the Commission on Ministry

Five Gold Rings -- Five bishops caucusing at the House of Bishops meeting

Six Geese a-Laying -- Six seminarians laying homiletical eggs in the pulpit

Seven Swans a-Swimming -- Seven baptisms at the Easter Vigil, stretching the liturgy to three hours

Eight Maids a-Milking -- Eight members of the hospitality committee bringing non-dairy creamer to coffee hour

Nine Ladies Dancing -- The one and only time liturgical dance appeared at St. Swithin's

Ten Lords a-Leaping -- Inserted into the new Christmas Pageant from the avant garde director

Eleven Pipers Piping -- The eleven funerals last year that included a bag piper playing Amazing Grace at the end

Twelve Drummers Drumming -- The "drumming circle" used at the ill-fated "contemporary worship service"
Did you enjoy this romp through the 12 Days of Christmas? It's an excerpt from my book Father Tim's Church Survival Guide. If you're looking for more such silliness, look for it, read it, and give it as a gift so your bishop doesn't spot it on your bookshelf.


marguerite said...

I once directed an avant garde version on the Pageant (for which I'm sure I'll pay dearly in the after life) and yet I am not offended. Seems your wit has trumped my embarassment. Most enjoyable.

Next please give us the real meaning of "Green Grow the Rushes-O"

marguerite said...

Also, who knew Bat Man was so liturgically astute!? Well done, Dark Knight.

aleathia (Dolores) nicholson said...

Remember what wrote in my comment about the Bowl games yesterday.....about Jonathan Winters and Chas Addams? You're getting close !

tikimama2 said...

I just did a search the other day on the song "12 Days" and read the long Wikipedia article, which is pretty interesting, and also debunks the "hidden catechism" idea. Also found the "12 Days of Christmas Local Style", which is a bit of fun for us Hawaii nuts: said...

Hi Tom,

So, I just got home and checked emails. I think you get this blog but just in case...the partridge in a pear tree comment below was too timely given our post luncheon comments.


Ginny Rodriguez said...

Thank you, Fr. Tim ! You brought a smile to my face!

Meredith Gould said...

Whenever I'm tempted to say that you've missed your calling I realize that you're exactly where you need to be, providing a much-needed and ongoing antidote to grim piety.

Unknown said...

Oh, Father Tim, you are always good for a giggle!