Signs & Symbols of the “Twelve Days of Christmas”

The story behind the song:

In the 16th century, England proclaimed an official state church, and any other religions teaching was strictly forbidden. For the next three centuries, those who refused to join the state church developed creative ways to teach their children about Christ & their belief in Him. One popular method was to use lyrics and song.

Delight in discovering the secret Christian symbols concealed in the familiar carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” This cheerful song, about the generous benefactor who loved to give gifts, could be freely sung without ever using God’s name, because “my true love” refers to God.

Read & discover how things are not always as they seem. See how an old familiar carol overflows with rich spiritual significance. And the next time you sing this song, notice how the repetitive pattern represents a special meaning- as the verses repeat over and over, so God’s ongoing gifts and blessings continue to flow.

Above all, be diligent, as these early Christian parents were, in showing the love of Christ in your home and teaching your children to love Jesus above all else. Show them, through your words, your actions, and your example the beauty & joy of having no other gods, than Jesus Christ.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the Word of Truth.” James 1:17-18

“On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree.”

The original gift of Christmas is Jesus, sent to earth from God.

God so loved the world that He gave his
Only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him
Should not
Perish but have
John 3:16 (GOSPEL acronym)

The partridge was known as a valiant bird, willing to fight to the death in order to defend its young, making it an ancient Christian symbol of Christ. The pear tree represents the cross.

“On the second day of Christmas, my true love have to me two turtledoves.”

For hundreds of years, Jewish families used turtle doves as offerings to God. The gift of two turtledoves is a reminder of the sacrifice offered for Jesus by Mary and Joseph. When Jesus was forty days old, they took him to the temple in Jerusalem. They brought a sacrifice of two turtledoves as was required by law.

“On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me three French hens.”

French hens were valuable poultry during the sixteenth century-only the rich could afford them. These costly birds symbolized the three valuable gifts given to Jesus by the wise men; gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold was the most precious of all metals. Frankincense and myrrh were expensive spices used as incense and for burials.

“On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me four calling birds.”

The four calling birds are reminders of the four Gospel writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These writers of the first four books of the New Testament proclaimed the testimony of Jesus’ life and teachings, Like birds, calling out with loud and distinctive voices, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John spread abroad the news of Jesus; life, death, and resurrection. They called people to faith in Jesus as their Savior.

“On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me five golden rings.”

Gold rings are among the most valuable and treasured of all gifts. The five gold rings represent the first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These books, known to the Jews as the Torah, were treated with great reverence and considered to be worth more than gold. In these books, Moses, the commonly accepted author, records the creation story and the beginning history of the people of Israel.

“On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me six geese a-laying.”

In many cultures, eggs symbolize new life. Six geese laying eggs become reminders of the six days of creation when God, by His Word, brought forth life on earth. God spoke and filled the earth with plants, birds, animals, and people during the first six days of creation, as found in chapter 1 of the book of Genesis.

“On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me seven swans a-swimming.”

Seven swans symbolize the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Just as baby swans grow and change from “ugly-ducklings” into beautiful and graceful birds, so do God’s children grow and change through the work of the Holy Spirit. The various gifts of the Holy Spirit are distributed for the benefit of the entire body of Christ.

“On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me eight maids a-milking.”

The eight milking maidens represent eight unique teachings of Jesus sometimes called the Beatitudes. These words of Jesus, from the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5, nurture and strengthen us much the way milk nourishes a child.

“On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me nine ladies dancing.”

The nine ladies remind us of the nine different fruits that the Holy Spirit produces in the lives of God’s children. Just as these ladies dance joyfully, so can every Christian rejoice over the life changing fruit of the Holy Spirit. Gifts: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, self control

“On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ten lords a-leaping.”

Lords were men with authority to command people’s obedience. Ten lords a-leaping symbolize God’s ten basic laws, otherwise known as the Ten Commandments.

“On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me eleven pipers piping.”

Eleven pipers represent the eleven apostles who were chosen by Jesus and remained faithful to Him. (There were 12 before the betrayal of Judas). Like children joyfully following a piper, these disciples followed Jesus. They also called others to follow Him. They piped an everlasting tune of great joy-the salvation message of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

“On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me twelve drummers drumming”

Just as drummers beat out a loud, steady rhythm for marchers to follow, so the Apostle’s Creed sets forth the beliefs of those who call themselves Christians. The twelve drummers represent the twelve vital Christian beliefs as stated in the Apostle’s Creed:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilot, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He rose from the dead. He ascended into Heaven and sits at the right side of God the Father. He shall return to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Mia & Reese

We thought that we would try for one baby, but instead we got 2 that looked exactly alike. These twin girls were born premature at 29 weeks (Mia 2 lbs 7oz & Reese 2 lbs 11 oz), and spent 2.5 months in the NICU. They are strong, and they are fighters. The girls were born on Memorial Day, which is no coincidence since Mia’s middle name is after my husband’s friend, who was a fellow Marine that was killed in Iraq 10 years prior. Today the girls are ONE, and you would never have guessed they were born so small. They are thriving! We never anticipated twins or preemies, but we were so blessed by the NICU nurses and doctors. We have made some life long friends through this process.




Consider it a sheer gift when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. –James 1:2
I never quite expected to be faced with the types of challenges my wife, Kameilia, and I would face at the onset of learning we were pregnant with our third child. We always spoke of having three children, and happily anticipated all the exciting aspects of pregnancy (aside from the nausea) – hearing the baby’s heart beat for the first time, feeling them kick and move, preparing a new little nest. Needless to say, we were excited.

I had March 7 circled on my calendar, as this was the date of our first ultrasound. While we were both anxious, there was a pending sense of relief in knowing that, after the appointment, we’d have confirmation that all was well. Frankly, I didn’t really prepare myself to accept the possibility that something would be wrong; but, as we eagerly gazed upon the ultrasound screen waiting to see our little peanut, all we heard was silence. I reasoned that there must have been something wrong with the machine, or perhaps our baby was just sitting at an odd angle. But the sad truth was that there was no heartbeat. We were devastated.

As a man, my natural instinct is to fix things. While I knew there was nothing that I could do to fix what had happened, I encouraged my wife that we could just keeping trying. But, even I knew that recovering from this loss would be a process; especially considering that Kameilia had not started the miscarriage process. Wanting to avoid surgery, we opted to patiently wait the necessary amount of time for things to happen naturally. To be honest, the longer we waited the more concerned I became.. Two weeks later, Kameilia started experiencing severe pain in her abdomen. As she lay curled up on the bathroom floor I did my best to comfort her, but there really wasn’t much I could do to relieve the pain. That night was the second-most difficult night I’ve ever experienced. Kameilia was experiencing severe symptoms of miscarriage, and the next day, she didn’t fare any better. In fact, she was growing much worse.

Wednesday, March 23 is forever burned into my memory. My concern for Kameilia’s health was growing exponentially, but in all honesty I didn’t really know what to expect. I had heard that having a miscarriage was similar to giving birth, but both of our children were delivered through cesarean, so I wasn’t fully sure of what to expect. We’d been in contact with Kameilia’s doctor for part of the day, but things just kept getting worse. Literally, at one point, Kameilia flew off the bed in a faint and landed on the ground. As I ran over to her she stared up at me, but it was as if no one was there. It was at that moment I knew that something was severely wrong.

After calling Kameilia’s doctor we left for the emergency room. Even after we arrived, and after all that we had already been through, I still didn’t fully realize to what extent Kameilia’s life was in danger. After a series of tests we learned that Kameilia’s abdomen was filling with fluid, and that if they didn’t operate soon it was likely that she would die. We learned later that she was bleeding internally. Having to stand by your wife while she is laying in agony, knowing that there’s nothing you can do, and knowing that the outlook doesn’t look promising is the most heart-wrenching feeling I’ve ever experienced. Yet, even in that moment, something arose within me and I declared over my wife that she would make it through. I thank God that His ways are higher than mine, and that we can have a peace that surpasses all human understanding even in life’s most difficult moments.

After about three hours, Kameilia’s doctor came out and told me that the surgery was successful and that Kameilia was out of danger, but that a hysterectomy was required. Apparently, the placenta had grown into Kameilia’s uterus causing it to rupture. While the surgery was successful, this meant that Kameilia would no longer be physically able to carry children. As devastating as that was, I was so overjoyed to hear that Kameilia was ok.

While the journey of recovery is still on-going, and is at times difficult, I know without any shadow of doubt that God saved Kameilia’s life that day. If it’s one thing I learned through all of this is that there is power in the spoken word. Speaking life over Kameilia in the few moments before surgery, I believe, carried great spiritual significance. Even more so, I learned how important it is to have a prayer strategy – to carry God’s word in one’s heart. We don’t often know what challenges we will face in our lifetime, but in those moments, it’s essential that we recall the words that God has spoken over us. It’s for this reason that I ordered a Prayerful Sign for Kameilia. Not only do the words on the sign serve as a prayer guide, but they also serve as a reminder of what God can accomplish in and through us when we pray.

Give a little GRACE.

I am not even sure my five year old daughter, Teagan, knows what the word grace means, but when she asked me for the little wooden signpost painted with GRACE. to put in her room I couldn’t say no.

I was proud of her for wanting to put the piece of painted wood, no bigger than a chalkboard eraser, on the bookshelf that formed her headboard. She liked the word, and I did too. GRACE. It was a word I thought I knew so well, and hoped one day she would too.

One morning a few days later, I woke with a start. My alarm had not gone off!  Or had I pushed the snooze, as I often do in my usual morning stupor.  I had an appointment this morning to get ready for, but more importantly it was a school day! Ugh, we were going to be late.

Teagan, much like her mom, is not a morning person. She needs extra time to fully come around to the idea of leaving the warm, comfort of her bed and prepare for a school day. (Mind you, this only occurs MondayFriday, on weekend mornings she miraculously pops right up bright and early!)

So I kicked into “hurry-up” mode. “Get up Teagan, it is late!”, “You have school!”,”What do you want for breakfast?” My voice began to sound loud and impatient. Teagan semi-raised her head, the waves of her long, golden hair covering one eye, the other peered sleepily in my direction. Her head dropped back down to the softness of her pillow.

Ahem,….I cleared my throat to begin again, but this time I was preparing to give it my mommy doesn’t have the time (or patience) for this voice- you know the one that we hope our friends and neighbors never hear-but I didn’t even get started. GRACE. The word on her signpost caught and held my gaze.

I paused, took in a long, slow breath and closed my eyes. God reminded me that Teagan did not cause the frazzled state I was in that morning. He asked me exactly who needed GRACE more at that moment.  (To be honest, I was not sure who needed it more right then, her or me!)

But I got the message:  I needed not only to acknowledge His loving gift of grace to me, but I also needed to give grace, and show grace and live out this gift through Jesus Christ.

I only thought I knew what the word grace meant. But that morning I was reminded how big the word really is. I am thankful for the lesson and I am in awe with God’s mode of delivery- a small wooden sign and an innocent child who likes the word  GRACE. 

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.  Romans 3:23-24