The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas

  •  First published in England in 1780, may be French in origin
  • English Christmas carol that enumerates a series of increasingly grand gifts given on each of the twelve days of Christmas
  • Cumulative song, each verse is built on top of the previous verses.
  • There are twelve verses, each describing a gift given by “my true love” on one of the twelve days of Christmas.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
      12 Drummers Drumming
      11 Pipers Piping
      10 Lords-a-Leaping
      9 Ladies Dancing
      8 Maids-a-Milking
      7 Swans-a-Swimming
      6 Geese-a-Laying
      5 Gold Rings
      4 Colly Birds
      3 French Hens
      2 Turtle Doves
      And a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

In French:

  • Deux touterelles (two turtle-doves)
  • Trois rameaux de bois (three wooden branches)
  • Quat’ canards volant en l’air (four ducks flying in the air)
  • Cinq lapins courant par terre (five rabbits running on the ground)
  • Six chiens courants (six running dogs)
  • Sept moulins à vent (seven windmills)
  • Huit vaches mourdants (eight chewing cows)
  • Neuf boeufs cornus (nine horned bulls)
  • Dix pigeons blancs (ten white pigeons)
  • Onze plats d’argent (eleven silver plates)
  • Douze coqs chantants (twelve crowing cockerels)

The Twelve Days of Christmas

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