Since young I used to sing this song and we often use this during caroling back at Malaysia. But I kept asking myself....So what does the 12 means? Why 12 days? And how does it connected to god? Well, I had made some research on the web, asking a few friends, and do some research on book stores and the library on history of Christianity. Finally I got a little understanding of the real meaning of this song.
The 12 days of Christmas was celebrated in some countries and the period starts from 25th December till 5th of January. And this period is also known as "Christmastide". The Twelfth Day of Christmas is 5 January, with the celebrations of Christmas traditionally ending on Twelfth Night and is followed by the Feast of the Epiphany on 6 January.
So here comes the song, so actually the lyrics has it's religious symbolism meaning behind this song..here it is! =)
Religious symbolism of The Twelve Days of Christmas (The 12 Days of Christmas)
1 True Love refers to God
2 Turtle Doves refers to the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens refers to Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds refers to the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings refers to the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying refers to the six days of creation (Geese refer to as holy as pure white, laying means to start a new life)
7 Swans A-swimming refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the sacraments
8 Maids A-milking refers to the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing refers to the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping refers to the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping refers to the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming refers to the points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed
Disclaimer: This is just part of my research, it could be wrong or right, but no matter how, all I done was for my better understanding of a certain stuff. If you have any suggestions or ideas, we can share and discuss. God has given us the knowledge to learn and understand =)