The Twelve Days of Christmas (song)


The Twelve Days of Christmas (song)
"The Twelve Days of Christmas"
Roud #68
Music by Traditional with additions by Frederic Austin
Published c. 1780
Language English; may be French in origin
Form Cumulative song

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" is an English Christmas carol that enumerates a series of increasingly grand gifts given on each of the twelve days of Christmas. Although first published in England in 1780, textual evidence may indicate the song is French in origin.[1][2] It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 68.

Contents

Origin

The twelve days in the song are the twelve days starting Christmas day, or in some traditions, the day after Christmas (December 26) (Boxing Day or St. Stephen's Day, as being the feast day of St. Stephen Protomartyr) to the day before Epiphany, or the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6, or the Twelfth Day). Twelfth Night is defined by the Oxford 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."[3]

Although the specific origins of the chant are not known, it possibly began as a Twelfth Night "memories-and-forfeits" game, in which a leader recited a verse, each of the players repeated the verse, the leader added another verse, and so on until one of the players made a mistake, with the player who erred having to pay a penalty, such as offering up a kiss or a sweet.[1] This is how the game is offered up in its earliest known printed version, in the children's book Mirth without Mischief (c. 1780) published in England, which 100 years later Lady Gomme, a collector of folktales and rhymes, described playing every Twelfth Day night before eating mince pies and twelfth cake.[2]

The song apparently is older than the printed version, though it is not known how much older. Textual evidence indicates that the song was not English in origin, but French, though it is considered an English carol. Three French versions of the song are known. If the "partridge in a pear tree" of the English version is to be taken literally, then it seems as if the chant comes from France, since the red-legged (or French) partridge, which perches in trees more frequently than the native common (or grey) partridge, was not successfully introduced into England until about 1770.[1][2]

The song was imported to the United States in 1910 by Emily Brown, of the Downer Teacher's College in Milwaukee, WI, who had encountered the song in an English music store sometime before. She needed the song for the school Christmas pageant, an annual extravaganza that she was known for organizing.[citation needed]

Music origin

The earliest well-known version of the music of the song was recorded by English scholar James O. Halliwell in 1842, and he published a version in 4th edition The Nursery Rhymes of England (1846), collected principally from 'oral tradition'.[4] In the early 20th century, English composer Frederic Austin wrote an arrangement in which he added his melody from "Five gold rings" onwards,[5] which has since become standard. The copyright to this arrangement was registered in 1909 and is still active by its owners, Novello & Co. Limited.[6][7]

Structure

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" is a cumulative song, meaning that 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.

The first verse runs:

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
A Partridge in a Pear Tree.

The second verse:

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
2 Turtle Doves
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

The third verse begins to show some metrical variance, as explained below:

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

...and so forth, until the last verse:

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[8]
2 Turtle Doves
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

This version features variant lyrics, as explained below.

The time signature of this song is not constant, unlike most popular music. This irregular meter perhaps speaks for the song's folk origin. The introductory lines, such as "On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me", are made up of two 4/4 bars, while most of the lines naming gifts receive one 3/4 bar per gift with the exception of "Five gold(en) rings," which receives two 4/4 bars, "Two turtle doves" getting a 4/4 bar with "And a" on its 4th beat and "Partridge in a pear tree" getting two 4/4 bars of music. In most versions, a 4/4 bar of music immediately follows "Partridge in a pear tree." "On the" is found in that bar on the 4th (pickup) beat for the next verse. The successive bars of 3 for the gifts surrounded by bars of 4 give the song its hallmark "hurried" quality.

The second to fourth verses' melody is different from that of the fifth to 12th verses. Before the fifth verse (when "five gold(en) rings" is first sung), the melody, using solfege, is "sol re mi fa re" for the fourth to second items, and this same melody is thereafter sung for the 12th to sixth items. However, the melody for "four colly birds, three French hens, two turtle doves" changes from this point, differing from the way these lines were sung in the opening four verses.

Variations

There are many variations of this song in which the last four objects are arranged in a different order (for example — twelve lords a-leaping, eleven ladies (or dames a-) dancing, ten pipers piping, nine drummers drumming).[9] At least one version has "ten fiddlers fiddling," and another has "nine ladies waiting." Still another version alters the fourth gift to "four mockingbirds."

A version considered by many to be the authoritative, traditional version of the chant in England appears in The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes,[2] as follows:

The twelfth day of Christmas, | My true love sent to me | Twelve lords a-leaping, | Eleven ladies dancing, | Ten pipers piping, | Nine drummers drumming, | Eight maids a-milking, | Seven swans a-swimming, | Six geese a-laying, | Five gold rings, | Four colly birds, | Three French hens, | Two turtle doves, and | A partridge in a pear tree.

There are some regional variants of the verb in the opening line of each verse. In the United States the true love sometimes "gave" the gifts to the singer. In the British version, the true love "sent" the gifts to the singer, but "said" is also found (for example as sung by Kate Rusby).

It has been suggested by a number of sources over the years that the pear tree is in fact supposed to be perdrix, French for partridge and pronounced per-dree, and was simply copied down incorrectly when the oral version of the game was transcribed. The original line would have been: "A partridge, une perdrix."[10]

Some misinterpretations have crept into the English-language version over the years. The fourth day's gift is often stated as four "calling" birds but originally was four "colly" birds, using another word for a blackbird.[9][11] The fifth day's gift of gold rings refers not to jewelry but to ring-necked birds such as the ring-necked pheasant;[1] or to "five goldspinks" - a goldspink being an old name for a Goldfinch.[12] When these errors are corrected, the pattern of the first seven gifts all being birds is restored. There is a version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" that is still sung in Sussex in which the four calling birds are replaced by canaries.[13]

A minor variant includes the singing of "golden" rather than "gold" rings, to avoid having to stretch "gold" into two syllables ("go-old").[1][14]

France

In the west of France the piece is known as a song, "La foi de la loi," and is sung "avec solennite," the sequence being: a good stuffing without bones, two breasts of veal, three joints of beef, four pigs' trotters, five legs of mutton, six partridges with cabbage, seven spitted rabbits, eight plates of salad, nine dishes for a chapter of canons, ten full casks, eleven beautiful full-breasted maidens, and twelve musketeers with their swords.[2]

Scotland

In Scotland, early in the 19th century, the recitation began: "The king sent his lady on the first Yule day, | A popingo-aye [parrot]; | Wha learns my carol and carries it away?" The succeeding gifts were two partridges, three plovers, a goose that was grey, three starlings, three goldspinks, a bull that was brown, three ducks a-merry laying, three swans a-merry swimming, an Arabian baboon, three hinds a-merry hunting, three maids a-merry dancing, three stalks o' merry corn.[2]

Australia

In Australia, a number of versions are sung, all of which replace the traditional gifts with items (mainly native animals) more likely to be found in that country.[15]

Meaning

The lyrics of The Twelve Days of Christmas may have no meaning at all. Its meaning, if it has any, has yet to be satisfactorily explained.

According to The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, "Suggestions have been made that the gifts have significance, as representing the food or sport for each month of the year. Importance [certainly has] long been attached to the Twelve Days, when, for instance, the weather on each day was carefully observed to see what it would be in the corresponding month of the coming year. Nevertheless, whatever the ultimate origin of the chant, it seems probable [that] the lines that survive today both in England and France are merely an irreligious travesty."[2]

A bit of modern folklore claims that the song's lyrics were written as a "catechism song" to help young Catholics learn their faith, at a time when practising Catholicism was discouraged in England (1558 until 1829). There is no substantive primary evidence supporting this claim, and no evidence that the claim is historical, or "anything but a fanciful modern day speculation."[1] The theory is of relatively recent origin. It was first proposed by Canadian English teacher and hymnologist Hugh D. McKellar in an article, "How to Decode the Twelve Days of Christmas," published in 1979. The idea was further popularized by a Catholic priest, Fr. Hal Stockert, in an article he wrote in 1982 and posted online in 1995.[16]

Variations in lyrics provide further evidence against the "catechism song" origin. For example, the four Gospels are often described as the "four calling birds," when in fact the phrase "calling birds" is a modern (probably 20th century) phonetic misunderstanding of "colly birds" (blackbirds).[16]

Regardless of the origin of this idea, a number of Christians give the following meanings to the gifts:[17]

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" as a Catechism Song
Gift Interpretation
A partridge in a pear tree Jesus
Two turtle doves The Old and New Testaments
Three French hens The three theological virtues faith, hope and love
Four calling [sic] birds The four Gospels
Five gold rings The Torah or Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament
Six geese a-laying The six days of Creation
Seven swans a-swimming Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit
Eight maids a-milking The eight Beatitudes
Nine ladies dancing Nine fruits of the Holy Spirit
Ten lords a-leaping The Ten Commandments
Eleven pipers piping The eleven faithful Apostles
Twelve drummers drumming The twelve points of the Apostles' Creed

Christmas Price Index

Since 1984, the cumulative costs of the items mentioned in the song have been used as a tongue-in-cheek economic indicator. This custom began with and is maintained by PNC Bank.[18][19] Two pricing charts are created, referred to as the Christmas Price Index and The True Cost of Christmas. The former is an index of the current costs of one set of each of the gifts given by the True Love to the singer of the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas." The latter is the cumulative cost of all the gifts with the repetitions listed in the song. The people mentioned in the song are hired, not purchased. The total costs of all goods and services for the 2010 Christmas Price Index is $23,439.[20] The original 1984 cost was $12,623.10.

Parodies and other versions

1951

  • Burl Ives recorded a traditional version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas".

1955

  • On the Twelfth Day... (1955) — also known as On the Twelfth Day of Christmas (USA video box title) — is a short film (23 minutes) from the UK, in which a proper Edwardian lady (Miss Tilly, portrayed by Wendy Toye, who also directed the film) patiently endures the ever-increasing disruption to her quiet household when her true love (Truelove, portrayed by David O’Brien) sends her all the items from the song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas." The film was produced by George K. Arthur.[21]

1958

  • Green Chri$tma$ is a piece of audio theater written and performed by Stan Freberg and Daws Butler and released by Capitol Records in 1958 (catalog number F 4097). Mr. Scrooge (Freberg), the head of an unnamed advertising agency, has gathered a group of clients to discuss tying their products into Christmas. One attendee, Bob Cratchit (Butler), wants to resist tying his spice company into Christmas, preferring to send Christmas cards with a simple message of "Peace on Earth." Scrooge extols the virtues of making money off of Christmas, and Cratchit counters by reminding Scrooge "whose birthday we're celebrating." The piece is a scathing indictment of the commercialization of Christmas, with references of Christmas-themed advertising by Coca-Cola and Marlboro cigarettes, among others. The names of the characters are taken from A Christmas Carol in Prose by Charles Dickens, as is one of the products "advertised" ("Tyn-E-Tim Chestnuts"). Green Chri$tma$ also contains a parody of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and an original song by Freberg, "Christmas Comes but Once a Year."
  • At Brown University a Latin Carol Service, held completely in Latin, is sponsored by the Classics Department each December. At this event, the women's a capella singing group The Chattertocks of Brown University sing "The Twelve Days of Christmas" entirely in Latin. For this service, “Duodecem Dies Natalis” was translated into Latin by Eunice Burr Couch and, for more than 50 years, has been performed by the group listed in the program as “Grex Chattertockarum,” literally, the "Herd of Chattertocks."[22]

1959

  • The 12 Days of Christmas Local Style was written "local style" with items one would expect on a Pacific Island instead of Jolly old England. "It was written in 15 minutes as three friends ate Chinese food in the living room of a Diamond Head home." So reported the Honolulu Star Bulletin back in December 1995.[citation needed] The song was copyrighted in 1959 by Eaton "Bob" Magoon Jr.'s Hawaiian Recording and Publishing Co. Listed as its authors were composer/real estate developer Magoon, actor/singer Ed Kenney and Gordon Phelps, then Magoon's assistant. Hawaiian Recording and Publishing Co. is no longer in business.

1963

  • Allan Sherman recorded—or at least released—two different versions of "The Twelve Gifts of Christmas," in which the gifts are tacky early 1960s items, such as a cheaply-made Japanese transistor radio.[23] Sherman wrote and performed his version of the classic Christmas carol on a 1963 TV special that was taped well in advance of the holiday. Warner Brothers rushed out a 45 RPM version in early December. The "A" side was the song, as recorded for the TV show. An edited version of "The Twelve Gifts" was included on a later album and, in later years, it turned up on a number of compilation albums and CDs, often identified as "The Twelve Days of Christmas". Despite the title, this version has only eleven gifts. On the twelfth day of Christmas, he decides to exchange the eleven previous gifts for other items.[24]
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks covered the song for their album Christmas with The Chipmunks, Vol. 2, in which they grow tried in the middle and accidentally flubbed on the eleventh day.

1964

  • The Thrifty Spendthrift is a comic version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" that first appeared in the February edition of Walt Disney's monthly "Uncle $crooge" (US47). Story and art work by Carl Barks. Scrooge McDuck is hypnotized by his nephew, Donald Duck using a ray pistol, and asked to give truckloads of gifts to the person he sees in a slideviewer. Unfortunately, for Donald, instead of Donald's picture his uncle sees the picture of a dog. Scrooge McDuck sets out to buy something original and is then inspired by a Christmas Card with the lyrics of "The Twelve Days of Christmas", wherefore he buys the gifts for the dog. The story has been reprinted numerous times in many languages, cf. INDUCKS.[25]

1968

1973

  • Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Walt Disney Productions used Disney's adapted character Winnie-the-Pooh for a "Twelve Days of Christmas"–themed coloring book in 1973. It included such items as "five acrobats," "two pogo sticks," and "a hunny pot inna hollow tree."[citation needed]
  • Scottish comedian Bill Barclay performed a parody version in which all the gifts were alcohol-related. As the song progressed, due to increasing (simulated) intoxication he would slur the words, omit some lines and sing others in the wrong order, until the final verse (which begins 'Twelve Alka-Seltzers...' which is sung in its entirety.

1979

  • The Muppets and singer-songwriter John Denver performed "The Twelve Days of Christmas" together on the 1979 television special John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together, and was featured on the album of the same name. The song lyrics remain the same as the classic version, with Miss Piggy adding in her long drawn out "Five gold rings" and classic "ba-dum-bum-bum," remaining true to the style of her character. The song has been recorded by the Muppets five different times, featuring different Muppets in different roles each time.[27]

1981

  • Italian American singer-songwriter Joe Dolce recorded an Italian version of the Twelve Days of Christmas on his album Christmas in Australia.
  • A Maori / New Zealand version, titled "A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree," written by Kingi Matutaera Ihaka, appeared as a picture book and cassette recording in 1981.[28][29]

1982

  • On the late-night sketch-comedy program Second City TV in 1982, the Canadian-rustic characters Bob & Doug McKenzie—Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, respectively—released a version on the SCTV spin-off album Great White North,[30] in which the gifts included eight comic books, seven packs of smokes (cigarettes), six packs of two-four ("two-four" is Canadian slang for a case of 24 bottles of beer), five golden tuques, four pounds of back bacon, three (pieces of) French toast, two turtlenecks, and a beer in a tree (identified early on in the song merely as "a beer"). They did not get past the eighth day; Bob wanted to include a dozen (12) doughnuts on the twelfth day.[31]
  • Frank Kelly, the Irish actor, singer, and writer, released the parody, "Christmas Countdown," by Hugh Leonard, as a single (1982) and on the album, Frank Kelly's Christmas Countdown (Rego Irish Records & Tapes, Inc., 16 April 1995), available as both a CD and an audiocassette.[32] The single version reached #8 on the Irish Singles Chart in 1982 and peaked at #38 on the UK Independent Singles Charts in 1984. This humoresque tells the story of an Irish man, Gobnait O'Lúnasa, who writes 12 successive letters to a woman named Nuala, who supposedly sent him each of the gifts mentioned in the song. The birds and characters (maids, lords, pipers, etc.) wreak havoc in the house where he lives with his mother. In his first letter, Gobnait's is thankful for the partridge in a pear tree, but he gets angrier and angrier and ends up desperately insulting Nuala.

1987

  • "The Twelve Pains of Christmas" is a parody of the song performed by Seattle, Washington, radio personality Bob Rivers,[33] in which the litany of each "thing of Christmas that's such a pain to me" includes "finding a Christmas tree," "sending Christmas cards," "facing my in-laws," "finding parking spaces," and Children and so forth. The song was released on the album, Twisted Christmas (Atlantic / WEA, 1987).[34]

1990

  • The cast of Twin Peaks recorded a version of the song that was broadcast on radio stations across the country at the time but was only made commercially available on record in Los Angeles. Cast members Dana Ashbrook (Bobby), Jack Nance (Pete), Kyle MacLachlan (Cooper), Kimmy Robertson (Lucy), Frank Silva (Bob), and Robert Bauer (Johnny) sang verses about different items and people in the town and related to the show such as jelly donuts, cherry pies, Laura Palmer's secret diary, the one-armed man, the midget from another place, and even Laura Palmer's corpse ("On the first day of Christmas..a body...dead...wrapped in plastic").[citation needed]

1992

  • The Kidsongs Kids sang this song on their "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" video and DVD.
  • This song is parodied in a Christmas commercial for the Pennsylvania Lottery.

1993

  • The Twelve Days of Christmas (TV 1993), which aired on NBC, is narrated by a partridge (voiced by Marcia Savella). This animated tale explains "the lengthy and confusing" Christmas carol of the same name through the following plot: The bold and brave Sir Carolboomer (voiced by Larry Kenney) loves the melancholy Princess Silverbell (voiced by Donna Vivino). To win her heart, he has squire Hollyberry (voiced by Phil Hartman) steal what he thinks is her Christmas list, but what actually turns out to be the answers to the King's crossword puzzle. Sir Carolboomer enlists his squire, Hollyberry, to find every item on her list, including a partridge in a pear tree, eight maids a-milking, four calling [sic] birds, and so forth. Each day, the gloomy Princess Silverbell would chase Hollyberry away. After twelve days of gift-giving, the Princess finally smiles when she sees twelve lords a leaping and falls in love, not with Sir Carolboomer, but with the one who actually did the work, Hollyberry. Adapted from a story by Romeo Muller.[35]
  • A parody of the song is featured on the album Ren & Stimpy's Crock O' Christmas. Titled The Twelve Days of Yaksmas, this parody has Ren and Stimpy list the strange gifts that Ren's cousin Svën has sent to them.

1994

1995

  • A Terrorist Christmas is a parody of the song written and performed by James & Kling (R.J. James/Dave Kling). It begins with "a knife with a very sharp blade" replacing the traditional partidge-in-pear-tree, and appropriately ends with nuclear holocausts.[38]
  • Roger Whittaker recorded a traditional version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" on his album "The Christmas Song".
  • The 25-minute movie, William Wegman's Fay's Twelve Days of Christmas, presents Wegman's dogs celebrating the holidays. It was originally released on VHS by Warner Home Video (12 September 1995), and later on DVD by Microcinema International (31 October 2006); it was broadcast on HBO in 2006.[39][40]

1996

  • Jeff Foxworthy released the parody, "Redneck 12 Days of Christmas," on his album, Crank It Up: The Music Album (Warner Bros. / WEA, 27 August 1996), available as both a CD and an audiocassette.[41] "Redneck 12 Days of Christmas" charted several times as a single, where it peaked at #18 in 1996, #39 in 1997, and 1998, #37 in 1999, and #35 in 2000. In 2004, a CD single of this song was packaged with Jeff Foxworthy's book, There's No Place Like (a Mobile) Home for the Holidays.[42]
  • In an episode of The Magic School Bus, "The Family Holiday Special" (Episode 39, first aired on 25 December 1996) —during a trip to a recycling plant that belongs to Murph (Dolly Parton) —Ms. Valerie Frizzle (Lily Tomlin) activates the bus's un-recycler, taking the class and Murph on a song-filled field trip, in which they sing a parody of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" with the traditional gifts replaced by recyclable objects and "true love" replaced by "teacher." This was the last episode broadcast on PBS (on 25 September 1998).[43]
  • In Hogfather by Terry Pratchett, Mustrum Ridcully sings - On the second day of Hogswatch, I sent my true love back | A nasty little letter, hah, yes indeed | And a partridge in a pear tree.

1997

  • Elmo's 12 Days of Christmas by Sarah Albee, illustrated by Maggie Swanson (Little Golden Storybook / Children's Television Workshop, 1997) is another Sesame Street-themed reinterpretation of the "The Twelve Days of Christmas." "Three French friends, two yummy cookies..." [44] In 1999, this book was released as a Sesame Street Jellybean Book.[45]

1998

  • In 1998, the How Ya Doin' Boys recorded "The Twelve Days of a Guido's Christmas" on their album "How Ya Doin' Yanks?"
  • In 1998, Natalie Cole released a version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," in which she began to parody the song with the ninth day, and sang the last verse (twelfth day) with the total number of gifts for each day (12 lords a-leaping, 22 ladies dancing, 30 pipers piping, etc.).[46]

1999

2001

  • In 12 Tiny Christmas Tales (TV 2001),[49] a grandmother tells three children some Yuletide tales in Christmas cartoon by Bill Plympton. The stories include a horror-story retelling of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," depicting only days 1–6, primarily featuring birds, who become such a nuisance that the singer decides, after six geese a-laying, to kill all the birds and later eat them for dinner, to the horror of two of the children and the hungry delight of the third.

2002

2003

  • Who Is Stealing the Twelve Days of Christmas? by Martha Freeman (Holiday House, 2003) was inspired by the song. Every Christmas since Alex can remember, his family and neighbors have filled their front yards with decorations from each of the twelve days mentioned in the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas," but this year someone is stealing them one by one.[53]
  • Relient K's Deck the Halls, Bruise Your Hand, featuring the song "12 Days of Christmas" is released, later reaching #60 on the iTunes Top 100 Chart in 2006.[citation needed]

2004

  • The Twelve Days of Christmas Eve (TV 2004) was a made-for-TV movie in which Calvin Carter (played by Steven Weber) is a successful business executive who has it all, but neglects those closest to him. On Christmas Eve, all that changes when the sign on his office building falls on him. He awakens in a hospital bed, attended by Angie (played by Molly Shannon), an angel in the guise of a nurse, who informs him know he has twelve days—that is, twelve chances—to get his act together and achieve the "perfect" Christmas Eve, else there will be dire consequences. This movie is a mix of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" (song), Groundhog Day (film), and A Christmas Carol.[54]
  • On the December 18, 2004 broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion, The Twelve Days of Christmas was performed by Garrison Keillor and Tom Keith with Keillor singing the lyrics but with Keith providing sound effects for all of the gifts but the five golden rings (which was sung traditionally by a choir and by the audience).[55]
  • On 24 December 2004, LoadingReadyRun (LRR) released the video, 2004 Holiday Special, which featured "The Twelve Geeky Days of Christmas," as sung by the LRR crew, in which the gifts relate to computers and video games.[56] This parody was written by Graham Stark and Paul Saunders.

2005

  • The First Day of Winter by Denise Fleming (Henry Holt & Co., 2005) is a riff on the popular holiday song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas." The picture book is narrated by a snowman, who receives all sorts of wintry necessities for the first 10 days of winter, beginning on December 21. It was named a Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Book for 2005.[57]
  • In her act, Las Vegas entertainer Fay McKay performed "The Twelve Daze of Christmas," with the conventional partridge on the first day, and then a different strong alcoholic drink for nearly all the other days: two Cutty Sarks, three Old Crows, four Old Fitzgeralds, etc. She started the song sounding sober and ending up sounding extremely inebriated and disoriented. McKay performed this parody of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" throughout her career, which began in 1951, but it was not until 2005 that a film of her performing the song was first released as part of the documentary, Lost Vegas: The Lounge Era.[58][59]

2006

2007

  • In 2007, a YouTube viral video of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" by the undergraduate a cappella group Straight No Chaser included the group's failure to be able to count the 12 days, and interspersed snippets of other traditional Christmas songs, as well as "I Have a Little Dreidel" and Toto's "Africa."[60] This, in turn, was a rearrangement based on Richard Gregory's 1968 arrangement of the song.

2008

  • "12 Days of Christmas Sing Along" (DVD 2008) was released by DreamWorks as a bonus feature extra on the Shrek the Halls DVD (released on 4 November 2008). (Shrek the Halls premiered on ABC on 28 November 2007 as an animated TV special.) The short film employs footage from The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper.[61][62]
  • A program hosted by Tom Arnold, The 12 Days of Redneck Christmas, which takes a look at Christmas traditions, premiered on CMT in 2008. The theme music is "The Twelve Days of Christmas."[63]

2009

  • A Piñata in a Pine Tree: A Latino Twelve Days of Christmas, by Pat Mora (Clarion Books, September 2009), provides a festive Latino twist on "The Twelve Days of Christmas," populating it with piñatas in place of partridges, plus burritos bailando (dancing donkeys), lunitas cantando (singing moons), and much more. In this version, a little girl receives gifts from a secret amiga, whose identity is a sweet surprise at the book's conclusion. There are things to find and count in Spanish on every page, with pronunciations provided right in the pictures and a glossary and music following the story.[64]
  • In the U.S. version of The Office's 2009 Christmas episode (season 6, episode 13), Secret Santa, Andy Bernard gives his crush, Erin Hannon, a literal series of gifts following the lyrics of the carol. She is not happy and addresses to the office whoever is her Secret Santa should stop giving these gifts because of injuries caused by the wild animals. The episode concludes with Andy admitting it was he who sent the anonymous gifts leading a parade of twelve marching drummers.
  • The Simpsons couch gag for Pranks and Greens had a modified version of this song.[citation needed]
  • TV commercials for Best Buy and the iPhone 3G sang the song with modified lyrics.[citation needed]
  • Team Four Star parodied the song for their series, Dragonball Z Abridged, with a version called 12 Days of DBZAbridgedmas.[65]

2010

  • The album Phineas and Ferb Holiday Favorites has a version in which the cast of the animated series Phineas and Ferb list the things they want Santa Claus to bring them. Over the course of the song, Dr. Doofenshmirtz gradually tries to change his wish, and Candace gets increasingly frustrated with not receiving hers (having her brothers get busted), eventually shouting, "Ah, forget it!" at the end of the song. The wishes are as follows in the song:
  • 12. One line of dialogue (sung by Ferb (Thomas Sangster})
  • 11. Her own set of wheels {sung by Vanessa (Olivia Olson)}
  • 10. A job that pays him money (sung by Carl (Tyler Mann))
  • 9. His platypus chirp (sung by Perry (Dee Bradley Baker))
  • 8. Promotion to colonel (sung by Major Monogram (Jeff "Swampy" Marsh))
  • 7. More nerds to bully (sung by Buford (Bobby Gaylor))
  • 6. A kiss from a girl (sung by Baljeet (Maulik Pancholy)}
  • 5. The entire Tri-State Area (sung by Dr. Doofenshmirtz (Dan Povenmire), but later in the song, asks for one single state, promotion to colonel, and almond brittle, as well as going on a rant between his pressure for his wish and singing the original line, Five Gold Rings)
  • 4. A silver guitar (sung by Jeremy (Mitchel Musso))
  • 3. A sash full of patches (sung by Isabella (Alyson Stoner))
  • 2. Two busted brothers (referring to Phineas and Ferb Get Busted) (sung by Candace (Ashley Tisdale))
  • 1. A jet-powered rocket ski (sung by Phineas (Vincent Martella}}
  • Online English and Esperanto version with simple melody score for all verses (as jpegs or pdf): "The Twelve Days of Christmas / La Dek Du Tagoj de Kristnasko."[66]
  • In The Simpsons episode "The Fight Before Christmas," where a "Muppet"-like Simpson family with Katy Perry sang their version of the song, "39 days of Christmas Days."[citation needed]
  • In the episode Big Time Christmas they try to sing a version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" with Snoop Dogg.[citation needed]
  • In Sonny with a chance,Sonny (Demi Lovato) sings a parody of this song with a sick accent, as her character, in a special Christmas chapter with Joe Jonas.

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f The Twelve Days of Christmas, retrieved on 2008-04-10.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g P. Opie and I. Opie, eds, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1951), ISBN 0-19-869111-4, pp. 122–3.
  3. ^ Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 1993 edition.
  4. ^ The nursery rhymes of England, 1846. ed. by J.O. Halliwell p.121, 122. Oxford University.
  5. ^ The New Oxford Book of Carols
  6. ^ A Christmas Carol Treasury: The Hymns and Carols Of Christmas
  7. ^ National Library Of Australia
  8. ^ BBC - h2g2 - Three French Hens - A212248
  9. ^ a b Active Bible Church of God, Chicago (Hyde Park), Illinois: "The Twelve Days of Christmas"; annotations reprinted from 4000 Years of Christmas by Earl W. Count (New York: Henry Schuman, 1948). Accessed 2007-12-21; 2008-12-25
  10. ^ Arseniuk, Melissa. "What Are the 12 Days of Christmas?" The Ottawa Citizen, December 24, 2006
  11. ^ The Twelve Days of Christmas Retrieved on 2008-04-10
  12. ^ Aled Jones, Songs of Praise, BBC, 26 December 2010
  13. ^ Pape, Gordon, and Deborah Kerbel. Quizmas Carols: Family Trivia Fun with Classic Christmas Songs. New York: A Plume Book, October 2007. ISBN 978-0-452-28875-1
  14. ^ "Gold keeps the 'Twelve Days of Christmas' cost a-leaping". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/business/s_655519.html. Retrieved 2009-12-08. 
  15. ^ 12 Days of Christmas Aussie Style, Retrieved on 2008-12-11
  16. ^ a b D. Emery, 'The Twelve Days of Christmas', About.com. Retrieved 22 July 2010.
  17. ^ Bratcher, Dennis. "The Twelve Days of Christmas". http://www.crivoice.org/cy12days.html. Retrieved 2010-12-13. 
  18. ^ Washington Post
  19. ^ The New York Times
  20. ^ "PNC Christmas Price Index". PNC Financial Services. 2010-11-29. http://www.pncchristmaspriceindex.com/CPI/2010/pressRelease.html. Retrieved 2010-12-17. 
  21. ^ On the Twelfth Day... (1955)
  22. ^ Brown University Encyclopedia Brunoniana by Martha Mitchell, copyright ©1993 by the Brown University Library.
  23. ^ Liner notes from Allan Sherman: My Son, The Box (2005)
  24. ^ Allan Sherman Discography
  25. ^ [1] Cf. Inducks
  26. ^ Caroling Corner: "Sinatra Family Twelve Days Of Christmas"
  27. ^ John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together (1979). Retrieved 2009-01-24.
  28. ^ "A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree"
  29. ^ Maori-in-Oz: "A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree"
  30. ^ Great White North, 1982; remastered in 1996
  31. ^ The Mad Music Archive. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
  32. ^ Frank Kelly's Christmas Countdown: Ireland's Famous 12 Days of Christmas Comedy Parody
  33. ^ The Bob Rivers Show: "Twisted Tunes"
  34. ^ Twisted Christmas
  35. ^ The Twelve Days of Christmas (1993) (TV)
  36. ^ Happy Garfield Day (1994) (TV)
  37. ^ Garfield's 12 Days of Christmas
  38. ^ A Terrorist Christmas by James & King (1995). Retrieved 2011-03-09.
  39. ^ William Wegman's Fay's Twelve Days of Christmas (1995). Retrieved 2009-01-10.
  40. ^ William Wegman's Fay's Twelve Days of Christmas (2006). Retrieved 2009-01-10.
  41. ^ Crank It Up: The Music Album
  42. ^ There's No Place Like (a Mobile) Home for the Holidays (Rutledge Hill Press, 2004). ISBN 978-1-4016-0194-2
  43. ^ The Magic School Bus: "The Family Holiday Special": Episode 39 (Season 3, Episode 13, Whole No. 39, Production Code 313)
  44. ^ Elmo's 12 Days of Christmas by Sarah Albee, illustrated by Maggie Swanson (Little Golden Storybook / Children's Television Workshop, 1997) ISBN 978-0-307-16095-9
  45. ^ Elmo's 12 Days of Christmas by Sarah Albee, illustrated by Maggie Swanson (Jellybean Books / Children's Television Workshop, 1999). ISBN 978-0-375-80382-6
  46. ^ Christmas With You (Hallmark Cards, 1998)
  47. ^ The 12 days of Starcraft map
  48. ^ Song with user-made video
  49. ^ 12 Tiny Christmas Tales
  50. ^ South Park
  51. ^ South Park: "Red Sleigh Down: Episode 96 (Season 6, Episode 16, Whole No. 96, Production Code 617)
  52. ^ 12 Days of Nickmas on YouTube
  53. ^ Who Is Stealing the Twelve Days of Christmas? (Chickadee Court Mysteries) (Holiday House, 2003) ISBN 978-0-8234-1788-9 (hardcover); ISBN 978-0-8234-2167-1 (paperback), August 2008
  54. ^ ’’The Twelve Days of Christmas Eve’’
  55. ^ A Prairie Home Companion: December 18, 2004 - Twelve Days of Christmas
  56. ^ LoadingReadyRun: 2004 Holiday Special (24 December 2004)
  57. ^ The First Day of Winter by Denise Fleming (Henry Holt & Co., 2005). ISBN 978-0-8050-7384-3
  58. ^ Fay McKay: "The Twelve Daze of Christmas"
  59. ^ Fay McKay: "The Twelve Daze of Christmas," from Lost Vegas: The Lounge Era (2005)
  60. ^ Rapkin, Mickey. "A Cappella Dreaming: 10 Voices, One Shot", The New York Times, Oct 3, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
  61. ^ Shrek the Halls (2007)
  62. ^ Shrek the Halls (Widescreen / Fullscreen Edition) (2007)
  63. ^ CMT.com: Shows: The 12 Days of Redneck Christmas. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
  64. ^ A Piñata in a Pine Tree: A Latino Twelve Days of Christmas, by Pat Mora. Illustrated by Magaly Morales. New York: Clarion Books, 14 September 2009. Bilinqual ed. ISBN 0-618-84198-9
  65. ^ Team Four Star: Home of DBZ Abridged
  66. ^ The Twelve Days of Christmas / La Dek Du Tagoj de Kristnasko

External links


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