Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The 12 Days of Christmas

There's a myth that during the English Reformation when Catholicism was outlawed, the 12 Days of Christmas was a mnemonic to pass on the tenets of Catholicism.

Snopes does a good job of debunking this myth, but there's something intriguing about codes hidden in plain sight that's probably kept it alive.

So, come up with your own secret coding. It needn't be religious. And maybe you can come up with a more clever code that relates to the objects also and not just the numbers. (Like you'd really need a song to remember the numbers 1-12 ;-) Note, they aren't just doves but turtle doves, not just hens but French hens. And a more natural dramatic moment would be half way through at 6, so why is it 5 golden rings? Notice the type of entries changes after 5: they're no longer just objects but objects in motion.

Here's what's supposedly encoded in the song:
  1. Partridge = Jesus or God
  2. Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments
  3. French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
  4. Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
  5. Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
  6. Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
  7. Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
  8. Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
  9. Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
  10. Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
  11. Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
  12. Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed
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