& a partridge in a pear tree

12 days christmas 1

The mother partridge will lure enemies away from her nest of defenseless chicks in order to protect them. She will literally risk her life for her children. The partridge in this song is a hidden reference to Christ, who declared, "I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:14-15). Jesus himself uses a bird analogy in Matthew 23:37: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. The pear tree symbolizes the cross, a literary usage called metonymy, whereby a thing is signified by a part or a whole of that thing. Jesus was crucified on a "tree," Paul says (Gal. 3:13); that is, a cross made out of a tree.


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