In the Christmas carol, A Partridge in a Pear Tree, I have wondered about the significance of the words and why a pear tree was chosen but not an apple or a peach tree. Well, when you sing the song, you quickly realize the words “a partridge in an apple tree” or “a partridge in a peach tree” doesn’t flow. The alliteration of “a partridge in a pear tree” definitely has a nice ring and rolls off the tongue. But, I wondered if there was more, so, I decided to find an answer on the internet.
- After reading a few articles on the symbolism of each stanza, I finally happened upon a short article by Cherish Flieder that revealed that the pear tree stands for longevity, justice, strength, fruitfulness, and salvation, many of the qualities given by God to those who love him. The partridge, himself, stands for our Lord, Jesus. Why a partridge you ask? Dr. Paul Spilsbury wrote, in an article in the Vancouver Courier, that a partridge will give up her life for her children. Jesus did this when he gave up his life to forgive our sins and give us eternal life. Ah….. so now it was coming together. You may be asking, “Well, what about the rest?” So, from the two authors above, here is what each stanza means.
- Two Turtle Doves symbolizes the Old and New Testament
- Three French Hens stands for faith, hope, and love
- Four Calling Birds mean the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)
- Five Golden Rings symbolize the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament
- Six Geese-a-laying stand for the six days of creation
- Seven Swans of Swimming are for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit ( prophesy, serving, teaching, exhortation, contribution, leadership, and mercy).
- Eight Maids-a-Milking mean the eight Beatitudes (blessed are the…)
- Nine Ladies Dancing stand for the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit ( love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control).
- Ten Lords of Leaping symbolize the Ten Commandments
- Eleven Pipers Piping are the eleven faithful Apostles
- Twelve Drummers Drumming mean the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed
So, there you have it. This song, written by Catholics for their children, secretly symbolized their beliefs, in a predominately Protestant England. Most of us, still do not know what these lyrics mean, as we blithely sing along. If you take time to reflect the true meaning of the song, you may appreciate it in a new way. Each stanza represents the gifts, teachings, sacrifice, and commandments of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Christmas is a time for us to reflect on who Jesus really is. It’s a time to invite him into your heart and home. All the glitter and presents in the world cannot give you the peace you long for. Only God can do that. After all the Christmas ornaments are put away and the lights disappear from the trees, depression often hits. This is because we are looking to the magic of the season to lift us from the sadness in our lives. But only Christ can give you the fulfillment you crave. Jesus says, ” I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” Psalm 16: 11 says, ” You will show me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy; At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Christ fills that void that all of us experience, at one time or another. Many of us try to fill that void with food, sex, entertainment, or other addictions, but only Jesus can give you that contentment you desperately need. Remember, the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, and peace. Don’t we all need these things? Jesus said in Matthew 11: 28 “Come to me, all who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Won’t you take some time to be with Jesus, today? Just spend some quiet time with him, wherever you are. If you’re not sure what to say, read the Psalms that I have mentioned, here, and then just talk to him about whatever is on your heart. He loves you, so much, and will be delighted to hear from you. You will be blessed. I promise.