The first day of Christmas is actually December 25, and it is obviously the celebration of Christ’s birth. In the song we all know and love , the Twelve Days of Christmas, Jesus is the Patridge in a Pear Tree as well as “my True Love”, according to Ann Ball in her book, Handbook of Catholic Sacramentals.
Ann puts forth that the song was written with two meanings, one being hidden and only known to members of the Catholic Church during the time period between 1558-1829, when Roman Catholics in England were not allowed to openly practice their faith.
The second day of two turtle doves, according to this book, stood for the Old and New Testaments. In another perspective, the second day of Christmas, Dec 26, is when the Feast if St Stephen is celebrated. This is the feast we sing about in Good King Wincelas.
Stephen was the first Christian martyr and is especially honored for feeding the poor. This day is also known as Boxing Day and has a focus of giving leftovers to the poor.
For me, on this 26th of Dec, I have been tired and wanting to recuperate from the busy weekend. We are leftovers, but we didn’t give them away. However, we did welcome an old friend to dinner and games in our home. This has brought me a sense of joy this evening.
My joy isn’t quite the same as those who might be trying to honor the memory of Stephen, however, I do believe it may come from a similar place in my soul that only God could fully understand. It’s a giving of the love of Christ in a different way than feeding the poor, but regardless, it does come from that same depth.
I’m especially struck by the two turtle doves reference in all this, because of how doves always symbolize peace. Peace is needed in this old friendship , and it has been given tonight. I think this is what has brought me joy as we bought a meal for our old friend tonight and welcomed him to our home.