The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9 (NIV)
Most sources classify the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas as a “counting rhyme” while others note that the song was originally written for Christians to secretly practice their faith during a time of persecution. Although there was no documented evidence to support the “persecuted Christians” account, the mere mention warrants attention. Historically, secret coded songs were used by persecuted people including Christians as well as African-American slaves to share messages and warnings. In The Twelve Days of Christmas, the “hidden message” is observed in the first line which everyone remembers:
On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me a partridge in a pear-tree;
Since the twelve days of Christmas end with Epiphany, it was natural to reflect on the unfamiliar symbolization of a very familiar song. In the “persecuted Christians” account, “my true love” is identified as God—not an earthly love—-while the "me" represents every Christian. It was proclaimed on the first of twelve days that a gift had been received from “my true love”. The gift, “a partridge in a pear tree” symbolizes Jesus Christ, a gift worthy of the “first” proclamation and the repeated mentions throughout the song.
Although the “persecuted Christians” account may not depict the actual origin of The Twelve Days of Christmas, the symbolization reminds us of God’s greatest gift: His Son, Jesus Christ. The symbolization also reminds us that many Christians must worship in secret because they are still persecuted for their Christian beliefs and practices especially during the Christmas season.Almighty Father, I pray for our Christian brothers and sisters who are displaced, imprisoned and persecuted.
© 2013 Sally S. Cherry