For millions, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is nothing more than a novelty song. Most link this old Christmas carol with other nonsensical numbers such as “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” or “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” But, as history would have it, there was a time in England when “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was one of the most important teaching tools of the Catholic church.
Beginning in the 16th century, British Catholics were forbidden by law to practice their faith and forced underground. One of the most severe problems they faced was teaching children doctrine of the church, since anything written could cost both writer and reader their life. Messages had to be reproduced in secret code. One of the most successful codes invented was a Christmas carol that seemed to make no sense at all.
Are you humming the song yet? “On the ___ day of Christmas my true love gave to me….”
Take the French hens for example. On the surface three French hens means nothing, but in the 16th century they were very expensive food items reserved only for the wealthiest of homes. If a banquet of French hens was served, then it was a meal fit for a king. In the song the hens actually symbolized faith, hope and love. When children sang the third verse of the song they pictured not hens but these important theological values.
Today, November 28, 2017 – the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving – is a day we have come to know as #GivingTuesday – a global day of giving. When the consumer holidays of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday have passed, Giving Tuesday reminds us that, just like the French hens, there is another meaning: a deeper call to each of us. The reason for the season is for giving.
Since 1952, United Christmas Service has given hundreds of thousands of individuals and families hope for the holidays. The program was conceived under the belief that no one should be without basic needs (or children without toys) during the holiday season. Donations to United Christmas Service provide families a voucher, empowering them to purchase gifts or basic necessities for themselves and their family at participating stores.
And now we present to you, our many loyal supporters (and maybe a few first-timers to this blog), an original version of these twelve days – with a twist – a “Twelve Days of Giving.” Beginning today we will share stories of the people, places and organizations that have joined United Way of Central Indiana and United Christmas Service in the fight for individuals and families in need during the holidays.
We encourage you to follow along at uwci.org/blog each day through December 9th. If you like what you read, share the story with your friends and on social media using the hashtag #givingtuesday and #uwci100. And please, consider a donation today and help give a neighbor a chance at brighter new year.
Without further ado…
On the first day of giving, United Way gave to me… a chance to help my community.