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The Pear Tree Code

The following letter appeared in the December 29th Opelika-Auburn News:

To the Editor:

I’m sorry to see Mary Belk’s column repeating the long-refuted myth that the song “Twelve Days of Christmas” originated as a coded way of imparting Catholic doctrine in Protestant England when Catholics were persecuted.

Mona Lisa XII A quick internet search will bring up multiple websites debunking this spurious legend; just Google “Twelve Days of Christmas” together with “Catholic.”

In any case, the story doesn’t make sense even on its own terms, because the supposed secret meanings of the verses don’t contain any specifically Catholic content!

They’re generically Christian. Don’t both Catholics and Protestants accept the six days of creation, the ten commandments, etc.?

So why would Catholics need to hide in coded verse a set of meanings that were as acceptable to Protestants as to Catholics?

Roderick T. Long
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Auburn University

See also here and here.

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