12 Days of Christmas

When we think of Christmas, one of our fondest memories is the English song 12 Days of Christmas. The song plays in our head about the different gifts one each for a specific day on 12 different days prior to Christmas. This song appeared in 1780 in England and was chanted to a rhyme. There was no actual melody originally. It may have even originated in France. In 1909, it was set to music by the Frederic Austin and is still sung in our homes today.

The song is relatively easy for kids to learn because of the repetitive nature of the verses. It tends to be very popular sung in “rounds” for Christmas performances and school concerts at holiday time. Many a night has been spent around the fire at holiday time with families singing this song together. Read on to learn more about this very old holiday song.

12 Days of Christmas Lyrics

When you sing the12 Days of Christmas, you are singing a type of song known as a “cumulative song.” You build each verse on each previous verse, leading up to twelve verses total in this song. Then after you get to the end of each verse, you sing right back to the beginning of the verse.

Every verse in the song represents gifts given by “my true love” on twelve consecutive days during Christmas week and the first week of the New Year, starting on December 26th and ending on January 6th. In Western Traditions of Christianity, these 12 days signaled the start of the Epiphany. When the wise men left to bring gifts to baby Jesus and the end of this period was January 6th.


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