The Christmas Carol known as “The Twelve Days of Christmas”
History informs us that from 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly and had to resort to discrete forms of communication.
It is believed that this particular Carol, fell into this category and was written anonymously for the purpose of providing a catechism for young Roman Catholics. The thought apparently was that by singing the Carol they would be able to state & reinforce their beliefs.
Being Freemasons we are very familiar with these TWO levels of communication: namely the Exoteric (apparent to all) and the Esoteric (requiring an in-depth search for the hidden meaning)
The information provided below has been shared with me, and while I have no way of verifying its validity, it is a beautiful story and as such very worth sharing.
You will note that I have not seen it necessary to place numbers beside each verse.
The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
Two turtle Doves were the Old Testament and New
Three French Hens stood for Faith, Hope & Love.
The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, (Pentateuch) 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- i.e. (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 disciples.
The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.
Comment It seems to me that each time human beings are faced with intolerance and discrimination they seem to be able to come up with very unique ways to manage, and still get their message across. Possibly this Carol would not exist today if it were not for the conditions in place at that time, however, it does speak to the conviction of Freemasonry regarding the “Universality of Man”
Our attitudes are like our shadows, they follow every thinking individual in his total activities. They are impelling forces in action, they shape our purposes. They largely determine our policies and practices. They are the very foundation of our many decisions, decisions which affect us personally, our families, our relations to others in society and our actions as citizens. They are to human conduct what gunpowder is to shot, yet how many times do we given them much thought?
Hardly, if ever, do we bother to ascertain what our attitudes are, how we acquire them, or where they are leading us. That we acquire them is a certainty. We acquire many of them unconsciously from the four corners of our existence and are not aware of them unless we are confronted with a problem or a decision. They are crystallized in our minds on the basis of what we hear, see, feel and learn by contact with our fellow man. They result from our studies and our search for knowledge. Many of our attitudes are by necessity, transitory, temporary, and fleeting. Many are inherited from friends, parents and associates. Others are created by our environment, some are fundamental and permanent, permeating our entire existence. They stay with us for life, and shape our acts, our thoughts and react upon our personality for good or bad.
They may constitute our philosophy whether we realize it or not, and their existence is a part of our approach to every problem or activity we confront. They are of vital importance and of immeasurable importance to us, however, we cannot possibly conceive the influence they have upon us and those surrounding us.
While we cannot trace their source we can and should at least, to some extent, attempt to analyze our attitudes toward life and direct them in paths that will be most productive for good. Do we ever stop to ask if our attitudes are proper and wholesome?
Are they are influenced by our prejudices, or are they are tempered by intolerance?
Are they based upon unwarranted conclusions, and insufficient knowledge of facts.
It is of course impossible to catalogue all the ingredients of a proper wholesome attitude, but we can point to a few positive qualities that should be a part thereof.
They should be the result of careful thought, and they should be tempered by moderation and tolerant understanding.
They should be composed of the benevolence that readily concedes that practically every human problem has two sides and consequently at least two viewpoints.
They should be permeated by morality and seasoned by the spiritual teachings of our religion.
On the other hand our attitudes are often a matter of indifference and complacency. They could be steeped in the notion of luck as a substitute for industry and of chance rather than planning.
They may be influenced by the growing desire among us to cultivate the idea of getting something for nothing.
They may even be are influenced by the prevalent notion that it is necessary to eliminate the struggle from life to acquire happiness.
When we reflect that, as exercise is necessary to the muscles to acquire physical strength, struggle, or degrees of it, are strengthening influences in the development of personality
and character. Strength and struggle go together physically and spiritually.
In that connection it has occurred to me that we are attempting, to a greater degree than is good for us, to eliminate struggle from life.
While the attitude of average individuals may not change the course of great events, they are greatly important.
Many great examples could be cited to show that the attitude of one man or woman has effectively changed not only the course of that individual’s life, but the course of life for his fellowmen, for his or her state, or nation.
Attitudes defy description, they are as varied as the thoughts of men, yet they are ever present and determinative of our actions.
The assertion, or expression of an attitude, no matter how worthy of attainment sometimes is delayed for years while it takes roots in the hearts of men.
But an individual attitude if pervaded by conviction, born of truth, based on morality and right will ultimately prevail.
I know of no more important job in our lives than developing attitudes. The moral and spiritual aspects of these attitudes do not only influence us individually but they affect our marriage, our business successes, our ability to rear families and have an influence our friends and our neighbors.
Let’s take a hard look at our own personal attitudes, they are much more important than we think. The attitudes we develop as we proceed through life can either become stumbling blocks or great building materials.
Which shall they be? With God’s help we can make them wonderful building materials.
Adapted from a paper by: Bro. Carl Brigg, Beacon Lodge, No. 190, Red Deer, Alberta Canada September, 1969.
In uncovering this paper I thought that it would make a suitable admonition to us all as Freemasons & as we approach the beginning of another year. Hopefully I am not wrong!!!
On a very personal note, I have a sweat shirt that has the following saying on it:-
ATTITUDES ARE CONTAGIOUS ==IS YOURS WORTH CATCHING