The 12 days of Christmas – Merry Third Day to you!

“Christmas is more than a holiday during the month of December.  It is an everyday mindset on Jesus, a heart full of gratitude to Him and for Him, and it is a life lived in obedience through Him that brings Him glory.  I want to live my life in such a way that nothing changes in December except the decorations and the many gifts under the tree.  For everything else that represents Christmas, I want to live that way all year long.” 

(from Keeping Christ AS Christmas)

The 12 Days of Christmas

Did you know that the traditional 12 days of Christmas are not the 12 days leading up to Christmas, but the 12 days afterward?  In most of the Western church culture, the 12 days of Christmas begin either on Christmas night (Dec. 25) or the next morning (Dec. 26) and extend through January 6th, which is known as Epiphany.

Epiphany means “to show,” “to make known,” or “to reveal.”  It is a part of the Christmas season where we are to reflect on how the wise men sought out the Christ-Child, brought Him gifts, and revealed Jesus to the on-looking world as the Real Lord and King.

For us, these days should be set aside to focus or re-focus on the true mission of our lives: glorifying God and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and reaching others by “showing” Jesus as the Savior of all people.

If we celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, the holiday doesn’t end after the last gift is opened or the final family gathering… It continues as we move into the new year, as we plan those “new year’s resolutions,” and as we make a clean, fresh start for the next chapter of our lives.  I love the fact that my next life-chapter begins in the very center of the season of Epiphany.  It’s a beautiful reminder that as I plan toward the future, the “showing” of Christ must be in the midst of all I do.

It is a wise man and a wise woman who will seek the Lord, because:

“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;”
Lamentations 3:25

If you’d like to learn more about Epiphany, this is an excellent web article.

A little bit about The 12 Days of Christmas – the song


This popular nonsensical song and the 12 silly gifts can actually be used to teach us much about God and His love for us.  Some historians suggest that The 12 Days of Christmas was a song written in the 16th century to secretly teach children basic Christian instruction.  Others disagree.   However the song came into being, one thing is for sure.  The 12 days of Christmas can point us to Jesus every time we sing it.

  • “My true love” represents God, who loves us and gives us everything. (Jer. 31:3)
  • “A partridge in a pear tree” symbolizes Jesus who gave His life on Calvary’s tree.  (John 3:16)
  • “Two turtle doves” are a picture of the Old and New Testaments. (John 1:1)
  • “Three French hens” represent the Theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love. (1 Cor. 13:13)
  • “Four calling birds” symbolize the four Gospels, calling us to a relationship with Jesus Christ. (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)
  • “Five golden rings” relate us to the first five books of the Bible, known as the Pentateuch, which give the history of man’s beginning, our failure, and God’s redemptive grace.  (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)
  • “Six geese a-laying” stand for the six days of creation. (Gen. 1)
  • “Seven swans a-swimming” are the seven beautiful gifts of the Holy Spirit: prophesy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, and compassion.  (Rom. 12:6-8)
  • “Eight maids a-milking” symbolize the eight beatitudes: Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.  (Mat. 5:3-10)
  • “Nine ladies dancing” represent the nine fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  (Gal. 5:22-23)
  • “Ten lords a-leaping” signify the Ten Commandments: You shall have no other gods before me; Do not make an idol; Do not take God’s name in vain; Remember the Sabbath Day; Honor your father and mother; Do not murder, Do not commit adultery; Do not steal; Do not bear false witness; Do not covet. (Exodus 20:1-17)
  • “Eleven pipers piping” stand for the eleven faithful disciples: Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James bar Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas bar James.  (Luke 6:14-16)
  • “Twelve drummers drumming” remind us of the twelve points of the Apostle’s Creed:

1) I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

2) I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.

3) He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.

4) He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell [the grave].

5) On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

6) He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

7) I believe in the Holy Spirit,

8) the holy catholic Church (this refers to the universal body of Christ – not specifically the Roman Catholic Church),

9) the communion of saints,

10) the forgiveness of sins,

11) the resurrection of the body,

12) and life everlasting.

Merry Third Day of Christmas to you, my friends!  May the Lord be sought and found by all of us!  “Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:13 (Amp)

written by Jennifer Crawford Walker

Looking for PEACE this Christmas season? Get your copy of Keeping Christ AS Christmas today. $4.99. For all e-readers.

About SmellingCoffee

I'm a Jesus-loving, husband-loving, family-loving minister's wife and mom to two college kids, making our home and serving our Lord in the Mississippi Delta. I study, teach, speak, and write for the greatest Boss in the universe. "Faith, Family, Food, Fun, and Living Life brewed in the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus Christ in every place": That's what you'll find at


  1. Jen, I just LOVE this! Just shared it on FB. What a great reminder to take a deep breath and center ourselves on this sweet, special season. Thank you. Love you Friend!

  2. Beverly McWilliams says:

    One of my very favorite Christmas songs. Thanks for writing this and and for the link referral.