Eight Maids A-Milking

(NOTE: This series of blogs covers the twelve days of Christmas – Dec. 25th through Jan. 5th – and is based on the Christmas song, The Twelve Days of Christmas.)

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 “On the eighth day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, eight Maids A-Milking…”

 I have good news and bad news. The bad news is there are still five stanzas to this song. The good news is there are no more birds mentioned.

Back before refrigeration drinking milk was a luxury because it quickly spoiled. However, milk based products such as cheese and custards were prized treats because they did not spoil. If you go back even farther, to more ancient days, owning animals that produced milk was a great sign of wealth. For example, the Bible describes the incredible wealth of Job by stating he owned “five hundred female donkeys” (Job 1:3). In Job’s day, donkey milk was only for the very rich.

By mentioning “maids” (young unmarried women), the song has love and romance in mind. In 15th and 16th century England, the phrase “let’s go-a-milking” was a euphemism for “let’s get married.”

“On the eighth day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, eight Maids A-Milking…”

What is the symbolism behind this eighth day? What are the gifts of riches, nourishment, and love that God (our “True Love”) gives to us? The “eight Maids A-Milking” represent the eight Beatitudes mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 5:3-10.

The Beatitudes are to the New Testament what the Ten Commandments were to the Old Testament. The Beatitudes are the ethics of a Christian. The Beatitudes tell us how to love God and love one another, which is the fulfillment of everything the Old Testament teaches (Matthew 22:40). In the same way a wedding ring symbolizes unending love, so the Beatitudes demonstrate we are the Bride of Christ.

The Beatitudes start with the word “blessed.” This word goes beyond simply being happy and wealthy to meaning peace, contentment, purpose, wholeness, and security. The eight Beatitudes are…

1) Blessed are the “poor in spirit.” (v. 3 – Blessed are those who have an attitude of brokenness.)

2) Blessed are “those who mourn”. (v. 4 – Blessed are those who have an attitude of sorrow over sin.)

3) Blessed are the “meek.” (v. 5 – Blessed are those who have an attitude of gentleness, patience, and strength).

4) Blessed are “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” (v. 6 – Blessed are those who have a deep desire and longing for God, and an attitude to always do what is right.)

5) Blessed the “merciful.” (v. 7 – Blessed are those who have an attitude of compassion.)

6) Blessed are the “pure in heart.” (v. 8 – Blessed are those who have an attitude of holiness, which is not sinless perfection but the desire to sin less and less.)

7) Blessed are the “peacemakers.” (v. 9 – Blessed are those who have an attitude of forgiveness and reconciliation.)

8) Blessed are “those who are persecuted because of righteousness.” (v. 10 – Blessed are those who have an attitude of honor and duty, willing to sacrifice everything for the cause of Christ.)

The Beatitudes are gifts given to us by our True Love, because on our own we do not have the strength and ability to display these attitudes.

On the eighth day of Christmas our True Love gives us the desire, ability, and commitment (like an engagement ring) to live out what we believe.

What wonderful gift the Beatitudes are!

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