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Kindness Korner

A Partridge in A Pear Tree

This is the meaning of the Christmas Carol "Partridge in a Pear Tree"


There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me, (says Dave Cook). What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas? Today I found out.

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning -- the surface meaning, plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember:

The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ. Two turtledoves were the Old and New Testaments. 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 recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

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 the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments. The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples. The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

So, there is your history for today. This knowledge was shared with me, and I found it interesting and enlightening -- and, now I know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol.—Dave Cook . Thanks Dave.


  1. I enjoyed hearing about the Twelve Days of Christmas but found this on Snopes. Uh oh! Whom do we believe??

    Click here: www.snopes.com: The Twelve Days of Christmas

    I guess, if we believe in Santa Claus, we can believe in the fun interpretation of this well-known song. I personally thought it was cool and want to believe it.

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