Another opportunity to get out our favourite Christmas china - our 12 Days of Christmas set of plates, each with the presents given on each of the 12 days of Christmas (from Christmas Day to Epiphany).
Calm down Old Pa Hurley, they did not cost a king's ransom - these were bought for £3 at a car boot, albeit in foreign parts (England).
Now you may not know this, but the poem/song 'The 12 Days of Christmas' is Catholic in origin. It came about after Elizabeth I reneged on her Coronation oath to uphold the Catholic faith and walked out of the Coronation Mass as the Blessed Sacrament was elevated by the priest.
She made England, Wales and Ireland protestant by forcing through a law whilst some of the Bishops were waylaid by her hirelings, so not only did she break her oath, but she forced through a law by guile that would never have gotten through otherwise.
After this it became illegal to celebrate Mass, attend a Mass or to house a priest. People had to to go to her protestant services or face fines and property confiscations. "Good Queen Bess" my backside!
And so, from circa 1558 to circa 1829, Catholics were forced underground, those who had the courage, stamina and fortitude to continue with the Faith of their Fathers.
If you want to know how cruelly and horrifyingly normal Catholics were treated, look up the treatment of St Margaret Clitherow, whose only crime was in having Masses celebrated in her home. She was crushed to death, whilst probably pregnant, at the age of 33.
The 12 Days of Christmas came about as a means of teaching each other, and especially the young, all about their Catholic faith, but in a hidden way - in the days when priests had to hide and the faithful lived in fear of their livelihood, property and lives.
As Catholic.net says:
“The Twelve Days of Christmas” celebrates the official Christmas season which starts liturgically on Christmas Day and ends twelve days later on the Feast of the Epiphany. “My true love” refers to God, “me” is the individual Catholic. The “twelve lords a leaping” are the twelve basic beliefs of the Catholic Church as outlined in the Apostles Creed. The “eleven pipers piping” are the eleven Apostles who remained faithful after the treachery of Judas. The “ten ladies dancing” are the Ten Commandments. The “nine drummers drumming” are the nine choirs of angels which in those days of class distinction were thought important. The “eight maids a milking” are the Eight Beatitudes. The “seven swans a swimming” are the Seven Sacraments. The “six geese a laying” are the Six Commandments of the Church or the six days of creation. The “five golden rings” are the first five books of the Old Testament called the Torah which are generally considered the most sacred and important of all the Old Testament. The “four calling birds” are the Four Gospels. The “three French hens” are the Three Persons in God or the three gifts of the Wise Men. The “two turtle doves” represent the two natures in Jesus: human and divine or the two Testaments, Old and New. The “partridge” is the piece de resistance, Jesus himself, and the “pear tree” is the Cross.