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The Surprising Way "The 12 Days of Christmas" Song Is Really All About Christ


Five Gold Rings

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Consider five beautiful golden rings. They are of great value. They are desirable. They are in the shape of eternity. The five gold rings might symbolize the law of the Old Testament, or the first five books of the Bible, known as the Torah. The five rings can bind us eternally to Christ if we choose to accept and cherish Him and His commandments found there.

Six Geese a-Laying

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Think of six geese laying eggs, or creating new life. Now reflect on the six days used to create the earth. The Lord created the world in six creative periods referred to as days, and He rested on the seventh. Since eggs are a clear symbol of creation and life, the six geese a-laying might be representative of the six creative periods. From the six geese-a-laying, we learn to accept Christ as the Creator of the earth.

Seven Swans a-Swimming

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Think of the beauty and grace of a swimming swan. Now compare that to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that Paul writes of in Romans 12:6–8. The seven swans in the song may represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that come to us through the Holy Ghost. They include prophesy, ministering or service, teaching, preaching or exhorting, simple giving, presiding or leadership with diligence, and mercy with cheerfulness. The seven gifts of the Spirit can enable us to be like the seven swimming swans—graceful creatures who reflect the Savior’s love and goodness.

Eight Maids a-Milking

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Consider the job of the milkmaid in ancient times. Hers was one of the most humble of all the tasks performed in the Lord’s manor. Now think of the eight beatitudes that the Savior taught in His Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5. The milkmaid can be a reminder of the meekness and humility reflected in the eight beatitudes. The eight maids a-milking can remind us to be humble, faithful followers of Christ and His word.

Nine Ladies Dancing

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Picture nine graceful ladies dancing in total unison and harmony. Now ponder the fruits of the Spirit as referenced in Galatians 5:22–23. These graceful dancing ladies in the song well represent the fruits of the Spirit that include love, joy, peace, longsuffering or patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance or self-restraint. These fruits of the Spirit and Christlike attributes will help us to become like the Savior.

Ten Lords a-Leaping

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Think of the term "lord." The lord of the English manor was a man of honor and the final voice of authority in any decision made there. Hence, the ten lords a-leaping might represent the Ten Commandments of our Lord and the governing influence that these commandments should be in our lives (see Exodus 20). As we obey the Ten Commandments, we can show our love for and devotion to Christ (see John 14:15).

Eleven Pipers Piping

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Of the Twelve Apostles, eleven remained faithful to the end. Each of these spent their lives in service of the Master. The eleven faithful Apostles followed the Lord’s charge to proclaim the gospel to all men. They did not become a quorum of twelve again until Mathias was called (see Acts 1). The eleven pipers piping can remind us that we must all be missionaries that spread the gospel throughout the world and invite others to come unto Christ (see Matthew 28:19–20).

Twelve Drummers Drumming

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The final gift of twelve drummers drumming may represent the apostolic creed taught to many Christian children. Its twelve points of doctrine span the birth, life, and teachings of Christ, including His Resurrection. As we study the life of Christ, we will become more like Him and will be prepared for eternal life.

Images from Getty Images.

Seeking christmas coverRead more about the symbols of Christmas in Seeking Christmas, available at Deseret Book and deseretbook.com