Home UK Christmas World Archive The Meaning Of 'The 12 Days Of Christmas' Popular Carol

The Meaning Of 'The 12 Days Of Christmas' Popular Carol

Chances are you have heard of or even sang the famous Christmas carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and around this time of year you've probably got the tune stuck in the back of your head on repeat. Well have you ever wondered what the true meaning behind the age old carol? 

Partridge in a pear tree themed stamp

The song actually dates way back in to the 16th century and although the exact origins and meaning of the popular Christmas carol are unknown it is said that the song may have originated from a child's memory or even a game. 

The twelve days of Christmas refer to the twelve days after Christmas, starting with what we call Boxing Day here in the United Kingdom. It's a common mistake as many people associate the twelve days of Christmas as the 12 days in the run up to Christmas day when it is actually the twelve days after. All ending on the Twelfth night, the 5th of January which is referred to by the English dictionary as "the evening of the fifth of January, preceding Twelfth Day, the eve of the Epiphany, formerly the last day of the Christmas festivities and observed as a time of merrymaking."

So what are the verses...

On the first day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the second day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

Two Turtle Doves

and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the third day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

Three French Hens

Two Turtle Doves

and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the fourth day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

Four Calling Birds

Three French Hens

Two Turtle Doves

and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the fifth day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

Five Golden Rings

Four Calling Birds

Three French Hens

Two Turtle Doves

and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the sixth day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

Six Geese a Laying

Five Golden Rings

Four Calling Birds

Three French Hens

Two Turtle Doves

and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the seventh day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

Seven Swans a Swimming

Six Geese a Laying

Five Golden Rings

Four Calling Birds

Three French Hens

Two Turtle Doves

and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the eighth day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

Eight Maids a Milking

Seven Swans a Swimming

Six Geese a Laying

Five Golden Rings

Four Calling Birds

Three French Hens

Two Turtle Doves

and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the ninth day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

Nine Ladies Dancing

Eight Maids a Milking

Seven Swans a Swimming

Six Geese a Laying

Five Golden Rings

Four Calling Birds

Three French Hens

Two Turtle Doves

and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the tenth day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

Ten Lords a Leaping

Nine Ladies Dancing

Eight Maids a Milking

Seven Swans a Swimming

Six Geese a Laying

Five Golden Rings

Four Calling Birds

Three French Hens

Two Turtle Doves

and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the eleventh day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

Eleven Pipers Piping

Ten Lords a Leaping

Nine Ladies Dancing

Eight Maids a Milking

Seven Swans a Swimming

Six Geese a Laying

Five Golden Rings

Four Calling Birds

Three French Hens

Two Turtle Doves

and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the twelfth day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

12 Drummers Drumming

Eleven Pipers Piping

Ten Lords a Leaping

Nine Ladies Dancing

Eight Maids a Milking

Seven Swans a Swimming

Six Geese a Laying

Five Golden Rings

Four Calling Birds

Three French Hens

Two Turtle Doves

and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

The verses actually differ depending on where you are in the world, for example "Six Geese a Laying" in some countries may just be "Six Geese Laying" or even "Six Ducks a Laying". Although the actual meaning of the gifts for each of the days has never been completely discovered there is evidence to suggest that the twelve gifts has some sort of significance towards the 12 months out of the year where each gift is a symbol of food or sport for each of the 12 months out of the year. 

Whatever the true meaning is, we know that the popular Christmas carol has been passed down from generation to generation and is certain not to change. So when December rolls around we can certainly guarantee that this Christmas chant will follow. 

Next Day Delivery Available

Your Basket

  • {property.name}: {property.value}

QTY:

View Basket () Continue Shopping