December 29, 2008

Five of What?

This morning in the parish office an argument broke out about the common idea that the "Twelve Days of Christmas" is a secret, catechetical code for Catholics living under persecution. I have always believed that this was a sort of urban legend with no real foundation, but others insisted on its truth. So who is right?

The argument started when nobody could figure out the fifth day. Five of what? I was asked. Knowing full well that the "correct" answer was probably the five Books of Moses, just to further monkeywrench the discussion I said that it had to be the five notions of the Trinity, and that I was busy preparing my class on active and passive spiration for my kid-adapted RCIA group.


Lee Hamilton said...

That's interesting - I've actually never encountered that legend before. The wiki entry for "12 days of Christmas" links this article which purportedly debunks the legend: I'm not sure how credible the article is however. I'm sure there's a lot of cultural memes floating about in fragmented form, the origins of which are lost to us. For example, I've never been entirely convinced by similar debunking of the "Ring Around the Rosie" rhyme...or perhaps I just pefer to believe the legend.

GrandmaK said...

Was the argument abated and quiet ensue? was glad I stopped by. Very interesting! Cathy