Monday, January 1, 2024

The Secret Meaning of the 12 Days of Christmas

You may have heard of the Twelve Days of Christmas, but did you know that they are not a countdown? Rather, they are twelve days of celebration that begin on Christmas Day and last until the Solemnity of the Epiphany on January 6th.

There is an old English folk song called the Twelve Days of Christmas about receiving a set of unusual gifts. We can find hidden symbolism in the gifts to remind us of important truths of our faith. For example, the partridge in the pear tree represents Jesus on the Cross, the two turtle doves are the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and the three French hens are the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love (or the Blessed Trinity!). Can you think of what the gifts on days four through twelve might symbolize? I made a worksheet for my students to match up the possible secret symbols behind the list in the Twelve Days of Christmas song. 

Note that I've seen a few different interpretations- these seem to be pretty universal and made sense to us! If you have a different list and would like to edit the worksheet, click here and make a copy of the original to make your own changes. Note that I also added an extra challenge at the bottom to include other ideas that would make sense for the symbolism- a nice little extension activity!

Click here for the student worksheet

Click here for the teacher answer key

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