The English version of the song, "The 12 Days of Christmas", was a memorization game that children played on Twelfth Night. Starting with a partridge in pear tree in verse one and going back to verse one and adding verse 2 and then 3 and so on.
Over the years, there have been many variations of the lyrics. For example, the song originally began, "The first day of Christmas", the word “On” was added in the 1909 version. Also, in earlier versions it was, "my true love sent" to the modern, "my true love gave to me.”
There are also variants on the gifts and where they came from. They used to come from "my mother" rather than "my true love.” The pear tree started out as a "juniper tree" to "June apple tree." "Four colly birds,” as in the collie dog breed, became "canary birds" to the present “calling birds.”
Sometimes the gifts are in a different order. In one version, the pipers may be on the ninth day rather than the eleventh. The ladies dancing first appeared on the 8th day now they can be found on the 12th day.
There are 364 gifts are given, one for each day of the year besides Christmas. Starting with a partridge in pear tree in verse one and adding 2 doves, 3 hens, and so on.
Since 1984, the PNC Christmas Price Index® has put a price tag on the gifts given in the 12 Days of Christmas song. This year they calculated the total price to be $38,993.59, up 0.2% from last year.
Check out these 12 Days of Christmas-themed titles from our digital collections to get in the holiday spirit!
Review provided by Hoopla
4 calling birds, 3 french hens, 2--Wait! That's not what the 12 days are at all. Use this Guide to learn about the real 12 days of Christmas, why they matter, and how to begin more meaningful Christmas traditions.(Note: This is not a devotional.)
Review provided by OverDrive
Christmas is a time of tradition, of sharing meals and memories with family and loved ones. The 12 Days of Christmas makes this time even more special, with its collection of holiday recipes for the festive season from Australia's favourite cookery author Margaret Fulton.
Review provided by Hoopla
From the New York Times bestselling author of Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? comes an enchanting collection of stories for the holiday season. For years Jeanette Winterson has loved writing a new story at Christmas time and here she brings together twelve of her brilliantly imaginative, funny and bold tales. For the Twelve Days of Christmas-a time of celebration, sharing, and giving-she offers these twelve plus one: a personal story of her own Christmas memories.