This piece is found on broadsides printed at Newcastle at various periods during the last hundred and fifty years. On one of these sheets, nearly a century old, it is entitled "An Old English Carol," but it can scarcely be said to fall within that description of composition, being rather fitted for use in playing the game of "Forfeits," to which purpose it was commonly applied in the metropolis upwards of forty years since.
The practice was for one person in the company to recite the first three lines; a second, the four following; and so on; the person who failed in repeating her portion correctly being subjected to some trifling forfeit. Thomas Hughes , in a short story published in , described a fictional game of Forfeits involving the song: .
So the party sat down round Mabel on benches brought out from under the table, and Mabel began, The second day of Christmas my true love sent to me two turtle-doves, a partridge, and a pear-tree;.
The third day of Christmas my true love sent to me three fat hens, two turtle-doves, a partridge, and a pear-tree;. The fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me four ducks quacking, three fat hens, two turtle-doves, a partridge, and a pear-tree;.
The fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me five hares running, four ducks quacking, three fat hens, two turtle-doves, a partridge, and a pear-tree. And so on. Each day was taken up and repeated all round; and for every breakdown except by little Maggie, who struggled with desperately earnest round eyes to follow the rest correctly, but with very comical results , the player who made the slip was duly noted down by Mabel for a forfeit.
Barnes , stated that the last verse "is to be said in one breath". Scott , reminiscing about Christmas and New Year's celebrations in Newcastle around the year , described a performance thus: . A lady begins it, generally an elderly lady, singing the first line in a high clear voice, the person sitting next takes up the second, the third follows, at first gently, but before twelfth day is reached the whole circle were joining in with stentorian noise and wonderful enjoyment. Lady Gomme wrote in . The party was usually a mixed gathering of juveniles and adults, mostly relatives, and before supper — that is, before eating mince pies and twelfth cake — this game and the cushion dance were played, and the forfeits consequent upon them always cried.
The company were all seated round the room.
The leader of the game commenced by saying the first line. This was continued until the lines for the "twelve days" were said by every player. For every mistake a forfeit — a small article belonging to the person — had to be given up. These forfeits were afterwards "cried" in the usual way, and were not returned to the owner until they had been redeemed by the penalty inflicted being performed. 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. An anonymous "antiquarian", writing in , speculated that "pear-tree" is a corruption of French perdrix partridge , and "colley" a corruption of French collet ruff, hence "we at once have a bird with a ruff, i.
Cecil Sharp , writing in , observed that "from the constancy in English, French, and Languedoc versions of the 'merry little partridge,' I suspect that 'pear-tree' is really perdrix Old French pertriz carried into England"; and "juniper tree" in some English versions may have been "joli perdrix," [pretty partridge]. Sharp also suggests the adjective "French" in "three French hens", probably simply means "foreign". According to Iona and Peter Opie , the red-legged or French partridge perches in trees more frequently than the native common or grey partridge and was not successfully introduced into England until about William S.
Baring-Gould suggests that the presents sent on the first seven days were all birds —the "five gold rings" were not actually gold rings, but refer to the five golden rings of the ringed pheasant. In , a Canadian hymnologist, Hugh D. McKellar, published an article, "How to Decode the Twelve Days of Christmas" in which he suggested that "The Twelve Days of Christmas" lyrics were intended as a catechism song to help young Catholics learn their faith, at a time when practising Catholicism was criminalised in England until Three years later, in , Fr.
Hal Stockert wrote an article subsequently posted on-line in in which he suggested a similar possible use of the twelve gifts as part of a catechism. None of the religious concepts allegedly symbolized by the enumerated items would distinguish Catholics from Protestants, and so would hardly need to be secretly encoded.
English composer Frederic Austin fitted the words to a traditional melody, to which he added his own two-bar motif for "Five gold rings". The time signature of this song is not constant, unlike most popular music. This irregular meter perhaps reflects the song's folk origin. The introductory lines "On the [ n th] 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 rings", which receives two 4 4 bars, "Two turtle doves" getting a 4 4 bar with "And a" on its fourth 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".
The successive bars of three for the gifts surrounded by bars of four give the song its hallmark "hurried" quality. The second to fourth verses' melody is different from that of the fifth to twelfth verses. Before the fifth verse when "Five gold 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 twelfth 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.
In the final verse, Austin inserted a flourish on the words "Five gold rings". This has not been copied by later versions, which simply repeat the melody from the earlier verses. In the 19th century, most sources for the lyrics do not include music, and those that do often include music different from what has become the standard melody.
Cecil Sharp's Folk Songs from Somerset contains two different melodies for the song, both distinct from the now-standard melody. This melody for "The Twelve Days" was published in It was "collected by the late Mr.
"The Twelve Days of Christmas" is an English Christmas carol that enumerates in the manner of a cumulative song a series of increasingly grand gifts given on. A few things you may not know about the song — and the actual 12 days of Christmas.
John Bell, of Gateshead, about eighty years ago" [i. This melody was current in "country villages in Wiltshire", according to an newspaper article. Since , the cumulative costs of the items mentioned in the song have been used as a tongue-in-cheek economic indicator. Assuming the gifts are repeated in full in each round of the song, then a total of items are delivered by the twelfth day. 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 index has been criticised for not accurately reflecting the true cost of the gifts featured in the Christmas carol.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. English Christmas carol. Older Musical settings of "Twelve Days of Christmas". This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Main article: Christmas Price Index. Armour Publishing.
As with the Easter cycle, churches today celebrate the Christmas cycle in different ways. Practically all Protestants observe Christmas itself, with services on 25 December or the evening before. But Do You Recall? Called Christmastide or Twelvetide, this twelve-day version began on December 25, Christmas Day, and lasted until the evening of January 5.
During Twelvetide, other feast days are celebrated. Opie and I. Retrieved 5 December Mirth without Mischief. London: Printed by J. Davenport, George's Court, for C. It was customary for girls to tell fortunes. According to the legend, evil powers wonder on earth for eight days after the birth of Jesus Christ and scares the passers-by. People used to dress up as devilry wearing horned and bearded masks to frighten and amuse everyone they met. About Us Contact Us.
Those include the cost of the turtledoves, French hens, calling birds, swans, maids and ladies. The outliers? The real leap, however, could be found with the Six Geese-A-Laying: an 8. That, PNC reports , is due to lagging wages finally catching up to a tight labor market. But those Five Gold Rings? The cost of the rings plummeted 9. According to PNC , less demand and fluctuations in gold prices are responsible for the dip. Those prices reflect the cost of shopping the traditional way: actually going to jewelry stores, plant nurseries and hiring talent in person.
While most states impose some level of sales tax, there is dramatic variation between what goods and services are subject to tax. This is especially true when it comes to the costs of services.