Twelve days of Christmas

Song Video

Information About Twelve days of Christmas

The origins of the "Twelve Days of Christmas" are unknown, although some believe that it came from the game that was played on the twelfth day of Christmas. This is where verses were made up by each of the players. When one of the players messed up a verse, then they had to give up a kiss or a candy. This is observed in an early printed copy of Mirth without Mischief published in 1780 in England. However, the song is thought to be much older than this printed version.

The "Twelve Days of Christmas" song is a cumulative one where the verses are all stacked on top of one another. It is a sing song type of song that provides different gifts for each day of Christmas meaning that many different variations can be sung.

I receive many emails about the usage of "Colly birds". People are correct to assert that "calling birds" is now more commonly used. Colly means black as coal in old English, so Colly birds means black birds - which is the original lyric. The word Colly is no longer used in conversational English, so this lyric has now been replaced by "calling birds".

Some people say that the song was originated by Catholics who wanted their children to learn a Christian song but because Christianity was illegal they had to do it another way. Each number is supposed to mean something biblical but there is possibility that this is all a myth.

English scholar James Orchard Halliwell printed the earliest melodic version of the song in 1842, published in 'The Nursery Rhymes of England" (1846).

Some Historical Beliefs Attached To This Song:.

  1. A Partridge in a pear tree refers to Jesus, Christ the Son of God.
  2. Turtle Doves - The Old and New Testament
  3. French Hens - Faith, Hope and Charity (the Theological Virtues)
  4. Colling birds - the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
  5. Golden Rings - The first Five Books of the Old Testament
  6. Geese A-laying - the six days of creation
  7. Swans A-swimming - the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit
  8. Maids A-Milking - the eight beatitudes
  9. Lords Ladies Dancing - the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit
  10. Lords A - Leaping-the ten commandments
  11. Pipers Piping - the eleven faithful apostles
  12. Drummers Drumming - the twelve points of the doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

If you want to learn more about the history of the song, check out this page about The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Alternative Lyrics & Related Songs

You can sing the song in a different order

Nine ladies dancing
Ten lords a leaping
Eleven pipers piping
Twelve drummers drumming.

Fun Alternative Version

A teddy in a xmas tree
Two racing cars
Three spider men
Four party bratz
Five diamond rings
Six funky fishes
Seven stripy jumpers
Eight slinky slinkies
Nine motor bikes
Ten batman capes
Eleven cuddly kittens
Twelve fluffy bunnies.

Listen to this song's music


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Robert, United States

17 December 2014 at 7:26pm

this song is awesome

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usa, United States

17 December 2014 at 7:23pm

anamls roks i men the song

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brandon, China

17 December 2014 at 7:14pm


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Isabel, India

17 December 2014 at 7:12pm


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brandon miller, China

17 December 2014 at 7:10pm


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Legs Sparrow, USA

22 October 2014 at 8:49pm

Saw this funny cartoon showing the Partridge and he is hungerly eyeing all the pears

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Keshawn, Tanzania, United Republic of

20 April 2014 at 1:36am

So true. Honesty and everything redoenizgc.

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Beverly Jo Jones, United States

30 December 2013 at 10:28am

A better educational source of the meaning of the Twelve Days of Christmas that appreciates the author, publisher, secular and religious ideas of the Christmas Story.

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jimmy, Bangladesh

18 December 2013 at 2:34pm


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Shane, Philippines

4 January 2013 at 12:45am

this is so wrong...

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Sudipta, United States

4 December 2012 at 3:20am

I love this song! I'm going to try to sing this on Christmas morning when we are around the Christmas Tree

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China Mclain, United States

12 November 2012 at 11:43pm

Omg love this song 4ever 12 day of cmas

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Venissa, United States

6 November 2012 at 5:37pm

I can't belilve that HANNAH MONTANA and JUSTIN BIEBER was here on this web site! I love them both!Who cares if people spell words wrong!I don't care!Who knows we could be spelling words wrong!

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Mia, Australia

26 February 2012 at 12:07am

9 3/4 out of 10

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Nicole, Afghanistan

28 December 2011 at 5:05pm

Worst thing in the universe

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Nicole, United States

28 December 2011 at 5:03pm

Where is the tune for the song because I HATE trying to keep the tune in my head so I absoulutely HATE this

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Hawwa, United Kingdom

26 December 2011 at 1:09pm

i love this becase its all about chrismas

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Jb Kool,,, American Samoa

25 December 2011 at 11:48am

u know sel is preg and that is su cwl its me JB puff

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Justin Bieber, Haiti

13 December 2011 at 3:37pm

i am too in haiti olivia so shut ur face

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Justin Bieber, Azerbaijan

13 December 2011 at 3:32pm

im dead and i know it haha just kicked someones butt

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This song has been printed from the website.