The 12 days of Christmas is the period of days between Dec. 25 and Jan. 6, which is called the Epiphany. The Epiphany celebrates the divinity of Jesus Christ.
The 12 days of Christmas is still practiced by many Christian religions, such as the Eastern Orthodox Church. People exchange gifts on each of the 12 days until the Epiphany, which is the pinnacle of the holiday.
There are many theories about how these 12 days first turned into the rhyme and song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas." One theory is that the song came from a British game for children. In order to play, verses had to be memorized and added upon by each subsequent player.
Another theory is that this rhyme was developed by the Catholic church during the 300-year period in English history where it was illegal to be Catholic. The 12 days of Christmas was a catechism song to teach all the important components of the religion. For instance, a partridge in a pear tree symbolizes Jesus Christ. Two turtle doves are the Old Testament and the New Testament. Three French hens equate to the virtues of faith, hope and charity. Four calling birds are the four gospels in the New Testament, while five golden rings are the first five books in the Old Testament. This goes all the way to the 12 points of the Apostles' Creed symbolized by 12 drummers drumming.