...is not just a song. December 25th is the first day of the Christmas Celebration and January 5th is the last day. From the 15th Century to the 19th, this song has various meanings, but the one that struck true for me begins with a way for Christians to share with each other the message of salvation without the usual fall out. It was against the law to speak of it. When I was given the opportunity to complete this project for my client, it was going to be a Christmas card. This project was an idea for Christmas 2011. I only had a few short weeks to deliver and when I started studying this awesome song, I discovered a message that needed to be conveyed in the true meaning. This Christmas Card project became a poster. It was completed for the 2012 Christmas Season. Here is a jaunt down the 12 days of Christmas Lane through my eyes and research. Each illustration is inspired by the true meaning and the layout came in a dream and that's when it switched from a card to a poster. There are some slight variations of the meaning in different countries, time periods and religions, but this is what I saw.
In days when you couldn't say anything about Christianity or you'd be punished, the Catholics had a secret code and it was the popular Christmas Song, The 12 Days of Christmas! This is the first day of celebration! Wonderful how it starts with Christ our Lord! The celebration started today and ends on January 5th. Hope you enjoy this!
On the first day of Christmas,
My TRUE LOVE, gave to me...the partridge is a symbol of Jesus Christ, our Lord. I tried to put the names of God in this illustration that were meaningful to me, if I put them all, you wouldn't be able to read it because there are so many names that are HIS name!
On the 2nd Day of Christmas,
My TRUE LOVE gave to me....the two turtle doves represents the Old and the New Testament. The great thing about these two infamous parts of the greatest canon, The Bible, of all time have one common theme thoughout each book if you read them and that is....salvation! Go ahead..check it out. This is how the scholars determined which books were to be placed in the Bible, the canon. Some people look at the books between the Old and the New as part of the whole canon, but they are considered the Apocrypha, which they may be good books, but didn't have that theme of salvation, which is the whole reason for the Bible, Inspired by the Holy Spirit (Third part of the Trinity).
On the 3rd day of Christmas,
My TRUE LOVE gave to me....Three French Hens has the meaning of the three virtues of faith, hope and charity. Faith is for what is hoped for, believing for something you don't see with your physical eyes and keeping on until it comes. Hope is what seems like is lost sometimes, but it is a part of all of us...seeing, feeling, wondering, believing for the present and the future. Jeremiah 29:11 says this: "For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a HOPE." Charity is giving. It's not just about material things, it is about giving of yourself as a whole. Your time, your presence minus the "smart phone", your money, your food, your words of encouragement, your harmony, your melody, your spirit, your healing hand, your hug, your kiss, your smile....YOU! We sing this song at church that says, "We're giving it all away, away...we're giving it all to go YOUR way!" I'm not talking about living destitute or taking on something you cannot bear, but doing something from your heart.
Live today with Faith, Hope and Charity...ultimate blessings will abound and overtake you.
On the 4th day of Christmas,
My TRUE LOVE gave to me...the Four Calling Birds or Colly Birds (Blackbirds) represents the first four gospels of the New Testament. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These books represent each of their point of view and one may have been an interpretation of Peter.
Matthew was a former taxgatherer and he knew shorthand...go figure!! This is how he was able to closely account what was recorded in his book. Apparently, the others deemed him the honor of teaching the new converts and aiming his teaching towards the Hebrew people...he referenced the Old Testament many times and was careful to call Jesus the Son of David. 28 chapters in the Book of Matthew.
Mark's gospel points towards Peter's teachings as the main source of his writings and the first mention of Mark is in Acts. Peter also mentions him as his son. Mark became Peter's interpreter. He was well versed in Aramaic. Jesus is portrayed as the Son of God. Only 16 chapters in the Book of Mark.
Luke was a physician and a companion of the Apostle Paul. His account of Jesus' life here on earth is the most complete and is a bigger part of the work of the Book of Acts. The message Luke wanted us to hear are the words of Jesus to Zaccheus (the little man in the sycamore tree), "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." 24 chapters in the Book of Luke.
John was considered the beloved disciple. His gospel was the most simple to understand and the most profound of the four. So, if you are a new Christian, this is a good book to start your journey. John is also the author of the last book in the Canon, Revelations. He uses the powerful concept of the miraculous as it only points toward Jesus Christ. Funny, many are drawn by the miraculous and we are called to do greater works than Jesus did. Healing isn't just for the body...it works in every area of your life. It is part of the salvation plan. 21 chapters in the Book of John.
The calling birds are those that call or caw...LOL! They make a huge impression on the accounts of Jesus' life here on earth, but not everything was recorded and if it were, there wouldn't be enough books to contain it.
On the 5th Day of Christmas,
My TRUE LOVE gave to me....the Five Golden Rings represents the first five books of the Old Testament or the Pentateuch. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are considered the LAW. When Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and then led his short, but impactful ministry, then died innocent on the cross (one of the cruelest deaths imaginable) in our place, descended into Hell to steal the keys of Death and then rose up from the grave, then ascended to the right hand of the Father God, but released and left behind the Holy Spirit, these laws were abolished and the only law Jesus would stand upon is two of the LAW or His commandments. Love the Lord, your God with all your heart, soul and mind and Love your neighbor as yourself. That's it!!!! If you keep those two commandments, you really don't have to worry about the rest...it's very simple! Religious people keep adding to these laws and they have literally become like chains. Obviously, this is quite the turn-off for ordinary people today. I always tell people that question my belief, "Show me one time that Jesus didn't bring life to the situation at hand...you can't, because He only brings LIFE and that is the GOOD NEWS! In ourselves alone we only have death unless we receive His high priced gift of LIFE freely." Release these chains because God only wants us to be FREE.
On the 6th Day of Christmas,
My TRUE LOVE gave to me...The Six Geese-A-Laying represent the first six days of Creation. The 7th day, God rested. I'm pretty sure there were all kinds of big bang explosions going on when he did all that work in such a short time!! :)
On the 7th Day of Christmas,
My TRUE LOVE gave to me....the Seven Swans-A-Swimming represents the Seven Gifts of the Spirit. This is illustrated with the accompaning latin words, and I will share those with you here.
wisdom - sapientia
understanding - intellectus
counsel - consilium
strength and fortitude - fortitudo
knowledge - scientia
sense of duty, reverence - pietas
The Lord - timor Domini.
On the 8th Day of Christmas,
My TRUE LOVE gave to me....Eight Maids-A-Milking represent the Eight Beattitudes listed in Matthew 5 during the Sermon on the Mount.
...the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven....those who mourn, for they shall be comforted....the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth....those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied....the merciful, for they shall receive mercy....the pure in heart, for they shall see God....the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God....those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. ~ Jesus spoke these words.
On the 9th Day of Christmas,
My TRUE LOVE gave to me...Nine Ladies Dancing represents the Nine Fruits of the Spirit (note: this is different from the Gifts!) Fruits meaning there is something that grows before producing. So, you don't always have these fruits, it's a process of learning, growing and changing. Once you do experience and have a constant flow of these fruits, they start reproducing and spilling over for everyone that is in your circle of influence. Guess what?? We have to plant these seeds and water them, feed them, while they are growing, water them some more, feed them some more and harvest them to be sown again and again. Sometimes you just have to dance, even when you don't feel like it. God made us the greatest creatures on the planet, even above the angels. Plant your seeds of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control - you will see!
Oh taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalm 34:8
The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult (this means dances) over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. Zephaniah 3:17
He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love. Song of Solomon 2:4 - Jehovah Nissi, Your banner over us is LOVE.
Sometimes we think that LOVE just comes. It really goes from bottom to top. You must have self-control to experience gentleness and in both of those, faithfulness in the mix produces goodness and kindness, by adding those two, patience comes, then peace, then joy and LOVE is the greatest of all these.
On the 10th Day of Christmas,
My TRUE LOVE gave to me...Ten Lords-A-Leaping represents the Ten Commandments that were given to Moses after he ascended up Mt. Sinai, not once, but twice.
We, humans, are not very patient. So instead of waiting for Moses to descend from Mt. Sinai, the Israelites decided to "party" instead and they built a "golden calf" made out of all their old gold. Wow, where have we heard that one before?? Really, people? Are we really that weak that we have NO discipline whether or not to stop the bad habits that bring you a recession instead of progression? The Ten Commandments were not set in stone for nothing, they were the basics of how we should live. Well, Mr. Moses had to ascend Mt. Sinai again to receive the tablets God had written for the people. Moses was so angry that he ended up breaking them so he had to go again. (Our God must be gracious if He gave Moses and the people a second round of tablets, huh??)
Here they are for your reference:
1 - Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
2 - Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
3 - Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
4 - Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5 - Honour thy father and thy mother.
6 - Thou shalt not kill.
7 - Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8 - Thou shalt not steal.
9 - Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
10 - Thou shalt not covet.
Remember, Jesus was sent here as a man to abolish the LAW, because RELIGIOUS people kept adding to the BASICS and it is impossible to keep, so therefore, people fall away because they are HUMAN. That's why the two Jesus commanded of us fulfill all of these. If you are busy and dedicated to loving God and loving people...you don't have to worry about the rest. Thank you, Jesus!!!
What positive steps are you taking in your quest for meaning and success in your life? A simple answer to get you started: love God, love people.
On the 11th Day of Christmas,
My TRUE LOVE gave to me...Eleven Pipers Piping represents the Eleven Faithful Disciples. So, obviously, Judas Iscariot, is not included, but I was surprised to learn there was more than one Judas! Simon Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas son of James.
As a follower of Christ and a person who has given their heart to Jesus, the only way I know to remain faithful is if there is accountability and discipline. My faults have been many and great as they are small. There is no secret to being faithful except to keep looking at the prize of the high calling of God. That prize is eternal life. There has been times when I wasn't faithful and He remained and stayed. It brings tears to my eyes right now, but at the time I couldn't see what I do now. Do you think these eleven were always faithful? Don't kid yourself, they were human just like you!! There is nothing that has been said or done that is new under the sun...remember that! My words of encouragement today are if you stumble and fall, the best thing to do is get back up. If you can't get back up, ask for help. We are here to help and to serve one another. At the last supper, Jesus, being free from sin, became the lowest of low in those days. He washed the twelve disciples' feet.
Luke 22:25-27 says this: And He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called 'Benefactors.' But not so with you, but let him who is the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table, or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves."
How do you remain faithful?
On the 12th Day of Christmas,
My TRUE LOVE gave to me...Twelve Drummers Drumming represents the Twelve Points of the Apostle's Creed. This creed is really a statement of belief.
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.
5. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.
6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
10. the forgiveness of sins,
11. the resurrection of the body,
12. and life everlasting.Amen.
Here is the completed work of art.
I hope you learned something about this wonderful song and about it's meaning. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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