Turtle Doves, are somethings I have heard since my child hood days right throughout the Christmas season. Especially the strong reference to turtle doves in the movie I watched many years ago, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.
Home Alone 2 : Lost in New York
In the movie Mr. E.F. Duncan , the Owner of Duncan’s Toy Chest offers Kevin McCallister, the naughty boy from the Home Alone fame, to take home a gift for free from beneath the tree as a token of appreciation. And that is when Duncan suggests that Kevin should take the Turtle Doves, and he says,
“Well, two turtle doves. I’ll tell you what you do: you keep one, and you give the other one to a very special person. You see, turtle doves are a symbol of friendship and love. And as long as each of you has your turtle dove, you’ll be friends forever.”
The Twelve Days of Christmas
Another strong reference I hear every Christmas and I am sure you too must have heard this one, the mention of the Turtle Doves in the song (Christmas Carol), “The Twelve Days of Christmas“, as the gift “my true love gives to me” on the second day of Christmas. If added cumulatively, by the end of the song, the recipient has been given 22.
Beginning in the Sixteenth Century, according to Collins, Catholics, including children, could be persecuted for practicing their religion. The Church of England was the legal religion of the land. “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was a means Catholics used to teach their children the tenets of their religion in a way unrecognizable to the English authorities, according to Collins’ book.
To some, the idea that the song contains symbolism associated with the Sixteenth Century Catholic Church is pure legend: it has always been simply a whimsical secular tune, they say.
The “true love” giving the gifts represented the pure love of God. Each gift represented a major doctrine of the Catholic faith.
Turtle Doves represented Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Doves also symbolize truth and peace.
Now giving Turtle Doves certainly a very positive and warm gesture, but why Turtle Doves ?
Biblical references (especially the well-known verse from the Song of Songs i.e. Song of Solomon, which is a book of the Hebrew Bible), its mournful voice, and the fact that it forms strong pair bonds, Turtle Doves have become emblems of devoted love. This could be one reason.
Another strong connection associated with Christmas is the sacrifice of turtle doves described in the New Testament.
After forty days, His family sacrificed of two turtledoves. This showed that Mary and Joseph were poor because the Law says in Leviticus 12:8a, “And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons….” The fact that Mary and Joseph sacrificed two turtledoves showed that they did not have enough money for a lamb. This was a sacrifice of sin sacrificed in the temple (Leviticus 12; see end of lesson).
“Real” Turtle Doves
Now if you are imagining these to be pure white doves you are mistaken, they are brown in color, and there is black-and-white-striped patch on the side of its neck. The arrival in spring is heralded by its purring song, a rather deep, vibrating “turrr, turrr”, from which the bird’s name is derived. Despite the identical spelling, the “turtle” in it’s name is derived from Latin turtur, and not the reptile.
Turtle doves are often found in pairs as they form strong bonds, mostly monogamous for life. As such, they are often used as a literary symbol of love.
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