Today, Dec. 13, is not the beginning of the 12 days of Christmas. Today happens to be the 12th day before Christmas and therein lies the confusion. Thanks to the needs of merchants who need to sell products for the great gift exchanges that have become commonplace for this holiday, the season has become corrupted by the secular world.
We started hearing Christmas carols prior to Thanksgiving and we knew Labor Day was here when we saw the first decorations for sale in some of the larger chain stores. We see Santa and his elves everywhere and the trees begin to appear in homes and offices. It is wonderful to see the Nativity scene back on the corner of Highway 41 and 49. Thank you, Chase Bank.
The fact is that the 12 days of Christmas begin on Christmas day and continue until Jan. 6. This 12 day season is the season of Christmas to the church. The days leading up to Christmas, according to many churches, is known as Advent and the season following Christmas is known as Epiphany. The 12 days are representative of the time between the birth of Jesus and the day that the Three Kings, Magi, or the Wise Men (pick one) came to present their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. It took a long time for those men to arrive so it is compressed to a much shorter season.
The popular song that has everyone knowing about the 12 days of Christmas has been around for years and years. It has been changed over the years and there are many spin-offs and parodies of the song. The song has meanings to some that others don't share, but I would like to share one set of meanings that some Roman Catholic children were taught years ago for catechisms.
Jesus was represented by the partridge in the pear tree -- The two testaments were the two turtle doves. Three French hens represented the kings and the four gospels were referenced by the four calling birds. The pentateuch was recalled by the 'five gold rings' while the six days of creation were represented by the six geese.
The seven swimming swans were the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit while the beatitudes were represented by the eight milking maids. The nine dancing ladies reminded the children of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit and the 10 Commandments were represented by those leaping lords. Eleven pipers were symbolic of the eleven faithful Apostles and the 12 points of the Apostles Creed were recalled by the 12 drummers.
A couple of weeks ago a group announced that it would cost more than $100,000 to buy or rent those gifts for your "true love" to send to you so I wouldn't hold my breath for getting them and frankly, I don't know what I would do with the dancers, milkers, drummers and leaping lords. The rings would be fine as jewelry is always useful.
However; what is important is that we take the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I realize that many in our society are getting more and more vocal about not wanting the government to even acknowledge Christmas because they are offended in some way. I wish to remind those opponents of Christmas that the First Amendment restricts the government from prohibiting the exercise of religion so they should back off.
The secular world has encroached on religion and many folks have used the courts and threaten to block religious holidays from being celebrated as most of us want to celebrate.
They ignore some basics. The vast majority of us want to celebrate Christmas and not a no-named holiday. The fact is that if you stacked up all the kings who have ever ruled, all the legislatures that have ever sat, and all the armies that have ever marched -- All combined haven't altered the course of history as the man born in a manger to Mary and Joseph.
His birth matters because of Easter. Those two holy days are tied together because one without the other is meaningless. Sorry secularists and atheists, the fact is that the resurrection matters so we Christians celebrate his birth.
Twelve days to go.