This painting was commissioned for the popular range of jigsaws sold by Tailten Games
It was illegal to be a Catholic in England from 1558 to 1829, so this was written as a catechism song to help young Catholics learn the basics of their faith. Since it sounded like rhyming nonsense, Catholics could sing it without fear of imprisonment. The song had hidden meanings; "true love" refers to God and "me" refers to the church. The twelve gifts also had their meanings. On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me twelve drummers drumming (the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles Creed), eleven pipers piping (the eleven faithful apostles), ten lords a-leaping (the ten commandments), nine ladies dancing (the nine fruits of the Spirit), eight maids a-milking (the eight beatitudes), seven swans a-swimming (the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments), six geese a-laying (the six days of creation), five golden rings (the first five books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch"), four calling birds (the four Gospels, the four evangelists), three French hens (faith, hope and charity), two turtle doves (the Old and New Testaments) and a partridge in a pear tree (Jesus Christ, symbolically presented as a mother partridge that acts as a decoy to save her helpless chicks from predators).