December 11, 2016

I mentioned in my last post five “must see and do” experiences you should take advantage on your next trip to Dallas.  (I do recommend a trip to Dallas.  Put that on your bucket list.) One of those was a visit to the Dallas Arboretum.  My wife and I did just that to witness their rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas.  IT WAS SPECTACULAR.

I think we are all familial with the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”  It has quite a history.  “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is an English Christmas carol. From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of the Church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember. To fit the number scheme, when you reach number 9, representing the Fruits of the Holy Ghost, the originator combined 6 to make 3, taking the 6 fruits that were similar: the fruit in each parenthesis is not named separately. There are actually Twelve Fruits of the Holy Ghost.

The “True Love” one hears in the song is not a smitten boy or girlfriend but Jesus Christ, because truly Love was born on Christmas Day.  The partridge in the pear tree also represents Him because that bird is willing to sacrifice its life if necessary to protect its young by feigning injury to draw away predators. The two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments. The three French hens stood for faith, hope, and love. The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The five golden rings represented the first five books of the Old Testament, which describe man’s fall into sin and the great love of God in sending a Savior. The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation. Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit—–Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy. The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes. Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit—–Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience [Forbearance], Goodness [Kindness], Mildness, Fidelity, Modesty, Contingency [Chastity]. The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments. The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful Apostles. The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in The Apostles’ Creed.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I have heard this song all of my adult life and have never known or understood the meaning of each verse.  As opposed to a hidden meaning; I thought it was a light-hearted attempt in which a suiter was trying to gift his girlfriend during the Christmas season. I had no idea it had very deep scriptural meaning.

What I would like to do now is take you on a “digital trip” through the gardens while we look at twelve ingenuous depictions of each day of Christmas.  We first will take a very quick look at the grounds and then onto the kiosks.  Please remember the order is as follows:

  • A Partridge in a Pear Tree
  • Two Turtle Doves
  • Three French Hens
  • Four Calling Birds
  • Five Golden Rings
  • Six Geese a Laying
  • Seven Swans a Swimming
  • Eight Maids a Milking
  • Nine Ladies Dancing
  • Ten Lords a Leaping
  • Eleven Pipers Piping
  • Twelves Drummers Drumming


As you enter the Arboretum, you experience a sea of lights.  Trees, walkways, shrubs, statues—all are lighted or highlighted with lights.  The three JPEGS below will give some idea as to how the garden is decorated at Christmas.



The digital picture below does not do justice the magnificent Christmas tree in the center of the garden. The tree stands approximately twenty feet tall and has well over one thousand lights.


Another absolutely beautiful display is shown below.  Two magnificent Christmas trees covered with snow.


Let’s now look at the kiosks for each verse of the song.  Remember there are twelve.  Please note the remarkable detail with each representation.  The staff indicated to me the designs, fabrication and installation were are accomplished by in-house personnel.  It took eleven months to bring this song to life.



A Partridge in a Pear Tree


Two Turtle Doves


Three French Hens


Four Calling Birds


Five Golden Rings

NOTE:  Five seals are balancing the golden rings on their noses.



Six Geese a Laying


Seven Swans a Swimming



Eight Maids a Milking



Nine Ladies Dancing



Ten Lords a Leaping

Once again, notice the detail.  The ten lords are mounted on a rotating platform.



Eleven Pipers Piping


Twelve Drummers Drumming


The display in Dallas runs through 2 January 2017.  The surprising thing for me was the level of detail and how each individual exhibit was lighted.   Several of the figures were on movable platforms to show differing designs for each.  No two were just alike.  This was also very impressive.

If you are in Dallas, the trip is worth the two plus hours for a visit.  Hope you can take a look.



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