Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Partridge in a pear tree and Christmas Trees

One of the stories that emerges in email every Christmas is 

"From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember. -The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ."

Whilst I think is that there is some truth in that story regarding the Christian meaning behind the song but the implication that it emerged as a tool for the Roman Catholic "underground" church is nonsense. They may well have sung the song but I think Protestants would have as well. These two sites discuss some aspects of the song in detail
The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the First Day of Christmas

The French for partridge is "perdrix" which is pronounced "pear dree". So the song is French or even comes from Greek. So it appears to have been around for a long time and in transferring between languages to have been become slightly confused.

I learnt the song when I was a kid and it was/is very popular at Christmas in England.

Now why would the English have so much love for a song that was used by Catholics in secret.

Nothing about it is particularly Catholic - I do not see the Pope or Mary mentioned - the principles it expounds appear to be Protestant beliefs. Perhaps it is really a Protestant song enforcing their Faith.

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Also I am amazed at the "veneration" Christians give to the Christmas Tree.
Here is Wiki on possible pagan origins for the European usage of the Tree
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Now I like Christmas Trees but are they really anything to do with Jesus. Just part of our cultural traditions. Of course now they mean Christmas and so it brings people around to thoughts of the Lord so that is good.

I do like Christmas. Total strangers will say "Merry Christmas". My brain tells me that 25 December is not when Jesus was born BUT my heart says He would love the Love that appears at this time of the year. The reason for the season.

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