If you’ve been stuck at the mall listening to a song about ten Lords a-Leaping and eight Maids a-Milking you can blame the Jesuits.
Rumor has it they invented the Twelve Days of Christmas song as a catechism in code for persecuted Catholics in 16th-century England. The claim is that each of the items has a coded meaning (Old and New Testaments are the two turtle doves; three hens are the Wise Men; the Evangelists are the four calling birds; five gold rings speak of the five sacraments that should be received by all Catholics, etc.).
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