From the book The ADVENTure of Chrsitmas (Helping Children Find Jesus in our Holiday Traditions) by Lisa Whelchel.
I know you've heard of Christmas cookies and Christmas carols, but have you ever heard of the Christmas code? It just may be that the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is really about more than partridges and golden rings.
For nearly three hundred years, it was against the law in England to be a member of the Catholic church. Well, that didn't keep Catholic parents from wanting to teach their children about God, but in order to do so they had to be creative.
And here is where we leave the world of certain history and move into the misty realm of legends. As the story goes, several of these concerned parents got together and wrote "The Twelve Days of Christmas." They used a secret code hidden in the song to teach their children about the things of God. Let me crack the code for you!
"My true love" represents God, who gives all the gifts listed in the song.
"A partridge in a pear tree" is Jesus, who gave His life on a tree (the cross).
"Two turtle doves" symbolize the Old and New Testaments.
"Three French hens" are faith, hope, and love.
"Four calling birds" speak of the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke , and John.
"Five golden rings" correspond to the first five books of the Bible, also known as the Pentateuch.
"Six geese a-laying" stand for the six days of creation.
"Seven swans a-swimming" are the seven gifts of the Spirit (Romans 12:6-8).
"Eight maids a-milking" point to the eight beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10).
"Nine ladies dancing" signify the nine fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
"Ten lords a-leaping" represent the Ten Commandments.
"Eleven pipers piping" are the eleven faithful disciples. And finally...
"Twelve drummers drumming" call to mind the twelve points of the Apostle's Creed.
Learning this song would help the children remember some important facts about Christianity. Best of all, they could sing it publicly! When they did, they declared their allegiance to the King of kings.