Thursday, 30 December 2010

Six geese-a-laying on the Sixth Day of Christmas

On the Sixth Day of Christmas ... six geese-a-laying ; geese on the banks of the Cam behind King's College, Cambridge (Photograph: Tenaya Hurst)

Patrick Comerford

The Sixth Day of Christmas, 30 December, is a quiet day in the Church calendar, without commemorations, although the Episcopal Church (TEC) recalls Frances Joseph-Gaudet (1934), the Educator and Prison Reformer, on this day.

I was late sending out Christmas cards this year. If mine arrives today I hope you are reminded that Christmas continues for twelve days; if it does not arrive, please forgive me. For many people, the next two days may be quite busy with lots of guests, and preparations for ringing in the New Year. Perhaps today is a good day to begin preparing for the New Year, to begin making resolutions that have a truly spiritual and Christian intent.

The sixth verse of the traditional song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, is:

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Six geese-a-laying,
five golden rings,
four colly birds,
three French hens,
two turtle doves
and a partridge in a pear tree.


The Christian interpretation of this song often sees the six geese a-laying as figurative representations of the six days of Creation (see Genesis 1).

The Church of Ireland Lectionary readings for the Eucharist today are: I John 2: 12-17; Psalm 96: 7-10; Luke 2: 36-40.

Canon Patrick Comerford is Director of Spiritual Formation, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, and a canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.