What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?
Here is the Answer: 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
Two turtle doves were the Old and New
Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark,
Luke & John.
The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five
books of the Old Testament.
The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy
Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution,
Leadership, and Mercy.
The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love,
Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness,
and Self Control.
The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.
The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful
The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of
belief in the Apostles' Creed.
I set up a couple of 4x6 images to put in frames during Christmas and I have uploaded the jpg of two of them. One is the 12 Days of Christmas lyrics and the other is one of my FAVORITE Christmas songs, O Holy Night. Feel free to download, print and use as you wish. I have them in frames on the mantle.