The Twelve Days of Christmas

Welcome  Beautiful December.  Merry Christmas.  Happy Holidays.  Let’s go caroling.  So much wonderful music playing this time of year.  I love most all carols.  I’m sure you are familiar with The Twelve Days of Christmas as a holiday carol.  Ever since my childhood this song has puzzled and intrigued me.  That is my topic for today and I have a mostly-wellness Wednesday recipe to share.  Thanks for stopping by.  Note–I may receive a small compensation from affiliate links seen on this blog post.  For further information, please see my Terms and Disclosure page.

Twelve Days of Christmas
Have you ever been curious about the words of this familiar carol?

Food For Thought  It seems every organization, store, and social media venue wants to host a “12 days of Christmas” series of some sort leading up to Christmas day.  I kind of wanted to jump on this bandwagon with my blog, too.  But as I was planning my content for December, I remembered how confusing this carol was to me as I was growing up, and even now as an adult.  I mean, what strange gifts!  I wouldn’t be excited, at all, if my husband decided to give me swans this year for Christmas.  Or maids a milking, really?  So, I decided to turn to “ol’ man internet” and look up the meaning behind the song The Twelve Days of Christmas.  I did gain some background and history, but of course the actual meaning behind the words is debated like so many old things, and even somewhat controversial.

What I can tell you is that it is considered an English Christmas Carol because it was first published in England in 1780, but is thought to probably have originated in France.  It was not originally published with music, but was considered a rhyme, chant, or child’s memory game.  The cumulative manner of the lyrics is intended to give a sense of increasing grandeur in the gifts being received.  As children played the game, if they forgot one of the verses in its cumulative nature, they had to “pay” their friends with a piece of candy.  The lyrics were not put to the arrangement we now associate as its tune until 1909 by English composer Frederic Austin.  Religiously speaking, the twelve days referred to in the song are likely in reference to the festive Christian season known as “Twelvetide” which celebrates the Nativity of Christ.  This season begins on December 25 and ends January 5, and followed by epiphany.  It fits into other periods of religious celebration on the western calendar, but the information I found stated it could vary depending on religious denomination, culture and country.  So that’s the history of composition, but the controversy comes with the meaning of the lyrics.

It has been debated that the lyrics are actually “hidden” symbols of Christianity used during a time that Catholics were being persecuted for their beliefs.  After all, there are many Christmas symbols that are actually religious in nature, such as the candy cane.  It was thought that each of the 12 gifts were representation of important symbols within the religion.  For example, “twelve drummers drumming” would represent the 12 points of doctrine in the Apostles creed.  I also read that “my true love” mentioned in the song is supposed to be God, who gives us all of our gifts.  But many scholars consider this idea of hidden meanings to be a modern myth.  It’s considered unlikely that persecuted Christians would be allowed to sing a song about Christmas, whether the lyrics were symbolic or not.  It was also mentioned in my reading that there has been no documentation found throughout history to confirm that the lyrics were anything other than secular in nature.  One source stated that this debate about hidden meanings didn’t even come up for discussion until the 1990’s.  Personally, I cannot confirm or dispute any of the information regarding religious symbols.  I’m not Catholic, so I’m often not familiar with representations within their beliefs, but from my own religious upbringing, we made no references to The Twelve Days of Christmas as anything other than a somewhat silly song for the holidays.  I may not have given you definitive answers about the song’s meaning, but I may have given you something to contemplate.

Today’s Scripture  “On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, twelve drummers drumming.”  This line from The Twelve Days of Christmas makes me think of one of my very favorite Christmas songs: Little Drummer Boy.  I’m not sure what it is about that song, but ever since I was a little girl, it has been one of my favorites.  I love the celebration of the new born king, born a humble birth in a stable.  I love the idea of the little drummer boy, who is poor and humble, bringing the only thing he has to give-his talent.  How many of us can identify with that feeling?  I have nothing exquisite or close to worthy to give, but I can give  myself.  But guess what?  There’s no drummer boy in scripture!  Not one of the gospel accounts of Christ’s birth mentions anything about a boy showing up with a drum and speaking those words.  It is a Christmas carol simply for enjoyment, but if it makes you contemplate what you can give to the Lord this holiday season, there’s nothing wrong with that!  Here are some verses from the book of Luke describing what did happen at Jesus’ birth:

Luke 2:11-18  “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’  When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’  So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”

Today’s Recipe  All this talk of drums, makes me want some chicken drumsticks.  So, today I’m sharing one of our household favorite meals.  It’s healthy-ish for Wellness Wednesday!  My husband is diabetic, so I look for lots of ways to cook with less carbohydrates.  This meal is lower in carbs, but the fat content is not the best, so we don’t have this meal every week.  You can lower the fat content of the side dish by using skim milk and butter substitute for the mash, but you will sacrifice some of the rich and creamy texture.  Today’s recipe is Oven Fried Chicken Legs with Cheesy Cauliflower and Potato Mash.

Oven Fried Chicken Legs with Cheesy Cauliflower and Potato Mash

  • 10-12 chicken legs (about 3 pounds), remove skin to save even more fat and calories!
  • 3/4 cup dry bread crumbs (such as Progresso)
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp smoky paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4-5 small potatoes, peeled
  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs and next 8 ingredients.  In another shallow dish, whisk together egg and milk.

Dip each chicken leg in egg mixture, then in breadcrumb mixture.  Place chicken legs on prepared pan.  Bake at 375 for 50 minutes to an hour, turning once halfway through cooking time. Note–cooking times vary depending on oven temperatures and size of chicken legs, but be sure juices are running completely clear before serving.  My 10 large chicken legs took about 55 minutes and were perfectly done.

Cut potatoes and cauliflower into similar size pieces.  Place together in large pot.  Cover vegetables with water and add a teaspoon of salt.  Start cooking on high until water is at a full boil.  Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook 15-20 minutes, or until vegetables are VERY soft.  Drain off liquid.

Add butter and cream and begin to mash with potato masher (you can also use an electric mixer.)  Continue to mash until vegetables have a mostly creamy texture.

Add cheese and continue to mash until all ingredients are well combined and smooth.

Serve chicken with a side of cheesy cauliflower and potato mash, and perhaps a green vegetable.

Products I used for today’s recipes (links verified on 12/6/17 at 11:25 a.m., CST): 

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