If you are reading this column on Dec. 26, happy second day of Christmas!
Some might not realize that the 12 days of Christmas start on Dec. 25 and run through Jan. 5, which is known as Twelfth Night.
Jan. 6 is Epiphany, the day the Magi, or wise men, arrived to meet the baby Jesus. And in south Louisiana, Epiphany is the start of king cakes and Carnival season, which will look different in 2021 with the cancellation of many parades, balls and other events.
So what does that holiday favorite, "The 12 Days of Christmas," actually have to do with Christmas?
Lots of research has been done on the subject, and one theory is that the gifts in the song are representations of Christ. For instance, the partridge in the pear tree is Jesus Christ; the two turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments, etc. The idea was the song was used to secretly pass on Christian concepts.
Goodhousekeeping.com and others point to a major flaw: It was illegal to talk about Christianity, so surely you wouldn’t sing a song that starts each verse with the word Christmas.
So, if the song is not about Christianity, just what is it about?
Good Housekeeping and several other sources posit the song is a game.
In the 1800s, memory and forfeit games were popular. Remember all the lines or give up something, often a kiss or a candy. That may explain why it is so hard to get all the lines right.
The most common lyrics we sing today were written in 1909, and even then there are multiple versions.
The first printed version of the song was in 1780. The Good Housekeeping article mentions variations in the lyrics, including “A very pretty peacock upon a pear tree” and “an Arabian baboon.” And the calling birds were “colly birds,” meaning as dark as coal.
Memorizing Bible verses
Each year, many people make a New Year's resolution to memorize Scripture verses. The Verses Project might be able to help if that's your goal.
The Verses Project — theversesproject.com — was set up several years ago by a group of friends.
“The Verses Project," the site explains, "creates musical and visual art that helps people memorize and meditate on Scripture.”
Each week, a new verse is posted with music and art. And, over the past 10 years, the site has posted 226 verses, with 239 songs and 187 visual pieces. The site has 18,211 subscribers.
“Verses Project intends to make memorization and meditation sustainable, accessible, and even joyful," the site explains. "Every week, we pick a memory verse and post a song to help you hear and sing God’s Word; we post artwork to save on your mobile device, desktop, or for your wall so that you might not only hear it, but also constantly see it, be reminded of it, and treasure it; finally, we post a devotional blog to help you think on and engage with the text.”
In 2020, the project set up its own board of directors and is taking tax-deductible donations to help expand its reach, including putting albums on streaming music platforms.
So, if your 2021 resolution is to get serious about memorizing Bible verses, check out The Verses Project.