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Secret Symbols behind Melt’s 12 Days of Christmas Advent Calendar

September 28th, 2023

Secret Symbolism behind the 12 Days of Christmas

In this blog article we will be exploring the secret symbolism behind Melt Chocolate’s 12 Days of Christmas advent calendar, and delving into the religious and cultural history of England during the Reformation.

The most beautiful advent calendar we have ever seenThe Independent

“…I actually gasped when I opened the package because it’s a work of art and the most beautiful calendar I’ve ever seen…” Vegan Living

Handpainted Art – Handcrafted Chocolate

The Art of Chocolate

This handpainted calendar by the Melt team combines our love of art and our love of chocolate. Two of our greatest passions. The chocolate is hand crafted by our chocolatiers and the artwork handpainted by our talented team of in-house artists. The Advent Calendar is not only really beautiful but it also has a secret meaning. A secret code that represented the difference between life and death. So enjoy the chocolate and also discover the secrets of The Twelve Days of Christmas. This is the Luxury Advent Calendar at its best.

The secret code behind the song ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’

To understand the secret code – and its context lets try a thought experiment…

Imagine if tomorrow, Charles III declared that Druidism is Britain’s only true religion. As Charles III is Head of the Church of England – all Churches would automatically become places of worship for the Druids.  The Druids doctrine would therefore immediately become the official religion of the UK. 

Druids in a circle - history of 12 days of christmas song

The Druid’s doctrine is that human souls “are immortal and after a prescribed number of years they commence a new life in a new body.” This would become the new religious orthodoxy. We might also worship plants and may even be encouraged to talk to them!! As King Charles is known to do.

Stonehenge would become the new Westminster Cathedral. Anybody found following the “old” Protestant religion would be at risk of persecution, even death. Charles III would create a network of pursuivants or spies to find and persecute these recusant protestants. In this atmosphere of religious tension, Charles III would make it High Treason for a Protestant priest to even enter England and anyone found aiding and abetting that priest would be punished severely. 

Priest-hunters or ‘pursuivants’ would roam the country in search of Church of England priests and would measure the footprint of any houses from the outside and the inside to see if they tallied; they would count the windows outside and again from the inside; they would tap on the walls to see if they were hollow and they would tear up floorboards to search underneath. They would be looking for Church of England Priests in their carefully constructed Priest holes, hidden by the population not convinced about this new religion or the Druids in general.

Sounds ridiculous – well that’s exactly what Henry VIII and Elizabeth I did to Britain during the reformation and this is exactly the situation the Catholics found themselves.

The Reformation in England - Lutherism

Things got very extreme very quickly, for even fancy clothes could lead you to being accused of being  Spanish or a Jesuit. Prancing around in Silks could put you in prison.

According to the new orthodoxy and the pursuivants – those who tried to catch Catholics and Jesuits  even “richly apparelled, masking in their gold & siluer abroad … in a gold-laced suit, a cloke lined thorow with veluet’ . In otherwords smart clothing such as silk, satins and taffeta – was considered foreign, Spanish and likely Jesuit and thus a clear and present threat to the United Kingdom.

During this time, luxury fabrics were associated with vanity and desire.  They were foreign and exotic. Velvets, satins and silks were foreign, and associated with the Catholic nations of Spain and France, from which they were widely imported. 

 

A Religious Paradox

So if your faith could now put their very life at risk – a faith you and your family might have had held for millenia – you would do everything to avoid that fate. But paradoxically your faith also encouraged you to seek out like-minded people and worship together at mass. To solve this paradox you needed ambiguous symbolism. Hence, the secret symbolism behind the 12 Days of Christmas was necessary. The Twelve days of Christmas is exactly this secret code. To the uninitiated it was a lovely song about presents at Christmas – to the Catholics it was a secret sign that they could perform mass together in safety. For their very life depended upon it.

Twelve Days of Christmas Partridge Original Picture Symbolism

 

Was the Twelve Days of Christmas just a childish “memory-and-forfeit” game?

Yes to the Protestants, this Christmas carol was just a “memory-and-forfeit” game for which the rules were simple: When it’s your turn, you repeat all the previously sung lyrics and add the next one. If you can’t remember a verse, you owe your opponent a “forfeit,” which was usually a kiss.  Yet for Catholics it was a way of communicating faith and establishing “friend” from “foe”.

So no this song is not about the fantasy of lots of presents at Christmas- my true love is Jesus Christ -represented as a Patridge in a Pear Tree.

The 12 Days of Christmas Chocolate Advent Calendar

Discover the secret symbolism behind the 12 Days of Christmas within the lyrics of the song.

 

So the secret symbolism behind the 12 Days of Christmas are in the lyrics. At the time they were written it was a matter of life or death, if you revealed you were a catholic in England. By singing a song about a “Partridge in a Pear Tree”, you could send a secret code to your friends about your religion without the risk of revealing your true faith.

 

The twelve days of Christmas actually begins with the birth of Christ on Christmas Day, December 25th and ends with the coming of the Three Wise Men on January 6th. Known as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day.  

…First Day…

–  On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree –

The Partridge in the Pear Tree is: Jesus Christ.

 

…Second Day…

–  On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtle doves –

The two Turtle Doves are: The Old and New Testaments.

 

…Third Day…

–  On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me three French hens –

The three French Hens are: Faith, Hope and Charity, the virtues of God.

 

…Fourth Day…

–  On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four calling birds –

The four Calling Birds are:  the four gospels and/or the four evangelists. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

…Fifth Day…

–  On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me five golden rings –

The five Golden Rings are: the first five books of the Old Testament.

…Sixth Day…

–  On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me six geese a-laying –

The six Geese A-laying are: the six days of creation.

 

…Seventh Day…

–  On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me Seven Swans a Swimming –

The 7 Swans A-swimming are the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Seven Sacraments. 

There are seven sacraments or edicts issued by Jesus that were to be delivered by the Church. Sacraments are rites signifying the Grace of God. The seven sacraments are: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.

…Eighth Day…
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me Eight Maids a milking –

These are the Eight Beatitudes, the teachings of Christ from the Sermon on the Mount and the key code of conduct for his followers and disciples. The most famous are:

 “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth”.

 “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God”

 “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”

…Ninth Day….
On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me Nine Ladies Dancing –

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud”.

The nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…Those imbued with these attributes of the holy spirit, will bear fruit. 

…Tenth Day…

–  On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: ten lords a leaping –

These are the ten commandments, such as: 

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work.

 Honour thy father and thy mother.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour’s.

Play the Game with Melt Chocolates

…Eleventh Day…
–  On the Eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me Eleven pipers piping –

The eleven faithful apostles. Apostle means messenger. These are the disciples of Jesus who were ordained to spread “The Word”. The faithful eleven were as follows:

 

…Peter…

“The rock”, who is depicted holding the keys to heaven and has the power to grant forgiveness to penitents.

 

…Andrew…

 Brother of Peter, who demanded to be crucified on an x-shaped cross – upside down. The flag of Scotland is a saltire or Saint Andrew’s Cross which commemmorates this upside-down crucifixion and martyrdom.

“Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem, creatorem caeli et terrae” – I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth.

 

 

The eleven faithful apostles. Apostle means messenger. These are the disciples of Jesus who were ordained to spread “The Word”. The faithful eleven were as follows:

Twelve Apostles of Jesus 

…Peter…

“The rock”, who is depicted holding the keys to heaven and has the power to grant forgiveness to penitents.

 

…Andrew…

 Brother of Peter, who demanded to be crucified on an x-shaped cross – upside down. The flag of Scotland is a saltire or Saint Andrew’s Cross which commemmorates this upside-down crucifixion and martyrdom.

…John…

The beloved disciple, the youngest of the twelve. He was the only one of the twelve who did not suffer martyrdom instead he was exiled to the island of Patmos.

..James…

 The Great, is the brother of St John, often depicted as the walker with hiking boots, dressed as a pilgrim and now commemorated by the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

 

There was a habit during medieval times of depicting the disciples by their martyrdom. For instance:

 

…Simon…

 Was martyred by being sawn in two down his middle – and is often depicted with a saw.

 

…Matthew…

The author of the Gospel, was martyred with a sword – the sword is usually his attribute.

 

…James…

The Less, to simply differentiate him from St James the Great. James was cast down and stoned. But the fall and stoning only broke his legs, so on his knees he prayed to God for those who were attacking him, saying, “Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Then he was struck in the head and died. 

…Judas…

Judas Thaddeus was clubbed to death and his head was then shattered with a broad ax.

 

…Bartholomew…

Flayed alive, his skin was cut off and then beheaded – he is often depicted holding his skin.

 

…Matthias…

The apostle chosen by lot to replace Judas Iscariot – being stoned to death and then beheaded, which is why he is shown holding an axe or a halberd.

 

…Philip…

Participated in the feeding of the five thousand with bread. St Philip is sometimes shown with a basket full of bread. He was crucified.

 

…Thomas…

The twin and known as ‘doubting Thomas’ – he was martyred with a spear.

…Twelfth Day…

–  On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me 12 drummers drumming –

The 12 Drummers Drumming are the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed.
The word ‘creed’ comes from the Latin word credo, meaning ” I believe and trust”. Each of the twelve apostoles contributed one of the twelve articles. This was the mark or sign of a Christian.
“Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem, creatorem caeli et terrae” – I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth.

Melt’s 12 Days of Christmas Chocolate Advent Calendar

So enjoy the secret symbolism behind the 12 Days of Christmas. Take a piece of English history this Christmas and delve into the world of religious symbolism and delicious chocolate.

The chocolate section includes our gourmet dark chocolate, and our blonde pistachio plus a range of smooth milk chocolates; guaranteed to delight every morning when opening. The box itself for our luxury chocolate advent calendar is a stunningly designed-in-house book featuring a reindeer, inlaid with a beautiful gold design, which opens just like a real book – truly a one-off luxury chocolate advent calendar. On each day of Christmas, my true love sent to me an amazing Melt chocolate bar!

We also have a Vegan Christmas Advent Calendar for those who are dairy-free or vegan.

Our advent calendars are completely plastic free and sustainable! Melt is leading the way in the food industry towards a plastic-free future. Recycle, reuse and reduce is an important mantra for us as we work towards a zero-carbon footprint. One of the advantages of co-locating our kitchens together with our shops and locating them only in high street locations.

 

What do the 12 days of Christmas represent?

Marks the time in Christian theology between the birth of Christ and the coming of the Three Wise Men.

What was the hidden message in the 12 days of Christmas?

What is the religious name for the 12th day of Christmas?

Twelfth Night also known as Epiphany Eve

What does the partridge in a pear tree symbolize?

The Partridge in a Pear Tree is: Jesus Christ.

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