Sunday, December 22, 2013

"Twelve Days of Christmas" - Kiwi Style

The classic "Twelve Days of Christmas" song is heard by millions every year on local radio stations and in shopping malls around the western world.  Carolers sing of oddities like maids milking, swans swimming, turtle doves and of course the partridge in a pear tree.

Here in New Zealand, however, this song has taken on a new form.  Let me enlighten you to the well-known Kiwi version of the "Twelve Days of Christmas"

"On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Twelve piupius swinging
Eleven haka lessons
Ten juicy fish heads
Nine sacks of pipis
Eight plants of puha
Seven eels a swimming
Six pois a twirling
Five - big - fat - pigs !
Four huhu grubs
Three flax kits
Two kumara
And a pukeko in a ponga tree!"

Whichever version you fancy, there is a deeper meaning behind each seemingly nonsensical item mentioned.  This song was used in the 1500s to teach Catholic children in England the basic tenants of the faith when it was not in fashion to be Catholic.  For example, the "eleven pipers piping" represents eleven disciples who remained faithful to Christ.  The "eight maids a milking" symbolize the eight Beatitudes as mentioned in the book of Matthew in the Bible.  The list goes on and on. The culmination of it all, depicted by the "partridge in a pear tree", is God's greatest gift, the one that is more superior than all the rest, Jesus Christ his Son.

So. . .the next time you find yourself out of breath trying to sing all twelve verses of the song, just remember that you are actually participating in an age-old tradition with significant meaning.  And once you catch your breath, try the Kiwi version and pray for New Zealand.

Merry Christmas!

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