A bit of modern folklore claims that the song's lyrics were written as a “Catechism Song” to help young Catholics learn their faith, at a time when practicing Catholicism was discouraged in England (1558 until 1829). One version of this story interprets the song in the following way:
The Partridge in a Pear Tree: Is Jesus
Two Turtle Doves: Were the Old and New Testaments
Three French Hens: Signify Represent the three theological virtues faith, hope and love
Four Calling Birds: Represent The Four Gospels: Mathew, Mark, Luke and John.
Five Gold Rings: Stand for the first five books of the Old Testament Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy
Six Geese A-Laying: Symbolize the 6 days of Creation.
Seven Swans A-Swimming: Portray the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Understanding, Council, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and the Fear of God.
Eight Maids A-Milking: Denotes the eight Beatitudes.
Nine Ladies Dancing: Indicate the Nine Fruits Of The Spirit.
Ten Lords A-Leaping: Correspond to The Ten Commandments.
Eleven Pipers Piping: Are the eleven faithful Apostles.
Twelve Drummers Drumming: Mean The twelve points of the Apostles Creed.
Now you know about that wonderful Christmas Carol.