Can you name the gifts given on each of the Twelve Days of Christmas in this classic Christmas carol?

  • I’ve always enjoyed singing the Twelve Days of Christmas in an attempt to see if I could remember each of the symbols, especially when repeating the previous ones in order for the next day. It always seemed like a fun, nonsensical Christmas carol, whereas the gifts from the recipient’s lover are actually Christian symbols.

Do you know when the Twelve Days of Christmas are?

  • I always thought they were the 12 days leading up to December 25. But, no they aren’t the 12 days before Christmas – they are the 12 days following Christmas ending with Epiphany on January 6.

Do you know the meaning behind the symbols?

  • My granddaughter, Kaitlin, is at the age where she questions things that aren’t clear to her. She asked me why someone would give a partridge in a pear tree as a Christmas present. I didn’t have an answer. So as any good grandmother would do, I “googled” it. This is the site that I found: Twelve Days of Christmas. The website explains the background and controversy surrounding the symbols and then provides meanings for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas.


I think it’s too sophisticated for a seven-year-old to understand, but I found the essay interesting. If Kaitlin asks again, I’ll keep it simple at a level she might understand. But in the meantime, we’ll continue to enjoy singing the Twelve Days of Christmas. How much of the song can you sing without missing a line?

The first day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
A partridge in a pear tree.

The second day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Two turtle doves, and
A partridge in a pear tree.

The third day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves, and
A partridge in a pear tree.

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.

The fifth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Five gold rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves, and
A partridge in a pear tree.

The sixth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Six geese a-laying,
Five gold rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves, and
A partridge in a pear tree.

The seventh day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five gold rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves, and
A partridge in a pear tree.

The eighth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five gold rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves, and
A partridge in a pear tree.

The ninth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Nine drummers drumming,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five gold rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves, and
A partridge in a pear tree.

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

The eleventh day of Christmas
My true love sent to me
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 calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves, and
A partridge in a pear tree.

The twelfth day of Christmas
My true love sent to me
Twelve fiddlers fiddling,
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 calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves, and
A partridge in a pear tree.

~ Anonymous ~