Origin of the 12 Days of Christmas

Origins of the 12 Days of Christmas
The song heard for centuries kicks off with a partridge in a pear tree.
The 12 Days of Christmas: Five Golden Rings
Let's be honest: I think I'd actually prefer these five golden rings.

From Turtle Doves to Leaping Lords, What Does it All Mean?

It’s inevitable: “The 12 Days of Christmas” song becomes an earworm. I tend to get stuck on “five golden rings,” and then I hear it over and over again, right down to the partridge in a pear tree. Instead of allowing the song to drive me crazy, I decided to look into the meaning of it all—the reason, the song, the gifts.

I started with the Catholic News Agency and ArticleSeen, as well as countless other sources on the Internet, to determine the origin of The 12 Days of Christmas. Most agree that the “singer” is Jesus Christ, and the gifts are symbolic of different facets of Christianity. For example, the 10 lords a-leaping represent The 10 Commandments, the two turtle doves signify the Old and New Testaments, and the six geese a-laying symbolize the six days of creation.

Religion aside, the song has been sung for hundreds of years, with a variety of versions and in countless languages. The first known English version of the song was printed in Mirth without Mischief, a children’s book published in 1780. Still, many sources claim the origin to be French and published much earlier.

I’ve heard so many different performances the song. A few favorites include Burl Ives doing a traditional version, the Sinatra family singing what they gave to Frank, The Muppets pairing with John Denver, and Jeff Foxworthy and Bill Engvall’s Redneck version of the song. My most-loved version, though, is Alvin, Theodore, and Simon singing as The Chipmunks with their pal Dave.

And what would the cost be to send these over-the-top gifts to your true love? For Christmas 2014, PNC Wealth Management valued it at just under $28,000. That’s up 118% since 1984, when PNC’s analysts starting tracking the carol’s cost. We’re anxiously awaiting 2015’s results.

Good news: With The Days of Gifts, you don’t need to drop almost $30K on a bunch of useless gifts for your loved one. Our Days of Christmas gift packages range from $111.99 to $215.99 for practical, high-quality, unique gifts that won’t leave your recipient wondering what to do with five rings, 23 different birds, and 50 people making a lot of noise.

Merry Christmas,

The Days of Gifts: Andi


Andi Lucas is the co-founder of The Days of Gifts. She loves to give the gift of time, especially by planning celebration getaways with groups of friends. Send Andi an email.

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