On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . a partridge in a pear tree.
The partridge in a pear tree represents Jesus, the Son of God, whose birthday we celebrate on the first day of Christmas. Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge, a bird that will die to protect its young.
As we contemplate the meaning of this first verse of the song, there is so much about our Christian faith and Christ our Savior which is pointed to in this picture. Before we even get to the picture of the partridge in the pear tree, think about what the song says in each of the 12 verses – “my true love gave to me”. Think of the clear words of the heavenly Father at the baptism of his Son, Jesus by John the Baptist: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17). This is a reminder to us that Jesus is not only God’s gift to us, but also the giver of all the gifts which our heavenly Father wants to share with us.
The Apostle Peter stated it so clearly when he wrote “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24). On this “first day of Christmas”, it is a clear reminder to us that the baby who was born in the manger came so that one day he could die on the tree of the cross to pay for our sins and save us.
The picture of the partridge in the pear tree is also a reminder for us of the protection which Jesus our Savior gives to us. This is so well pictured in Psalm 91:4: “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.”
This seemingly simple picture of the partridge in the pear tree reminds us that in Jesus our Savior, God gives us everything we need for both our soul and body. As we kneel at the manger, it is a call for us to contemplate who that baby in the manger really is and what he means for us and gives to us. He is far more than a seemingly innocent child. He is God’s Son in human flesh who came to this world to carry out the bidding of his heavenly Father and care for us, the creation of our heavenly Father.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, on this first day of Christmas, lead me to understand and be humbly grateful for the gift which you have given me in Jesus, my Savior. Thank you for sending him to the earth to live a perfect life for me and ultimately to die on the tree of the cross to pay for my sins. Thank you for all that you give me in your Son! May I always be mindful of all the blessings which you have given me in Him! Amen.