British Culture, British Customs and British Traditions

The Twelve Days of Christmas
A very traditional song

Partridge in a Pear Tree

The Twelve Days of Christmas are from December 26th to January 6th. This song, which uses ordinal numbers, has made them famous.
Sing along to the music here - midi

Image

Day

Lyrics

Hidden Meaning or Urban Myth?

Day One- A partridge in a pear tree

Day 1

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me - a partridge in a pear tree.

Jesus Christ

Day Two - Two Turtle Doves

Day 2

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me - two turtle doves

The Old and New Testaments

   

And a partridge in a pear tree.

 

Day Three - Three French Hens

Day 3

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me - three french hens

Faith, Hope and Charity or the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

   

Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree.

 

 Day Four - Four Calling Birds

Day 4

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me - four calling birds

The Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists

   

Three french hens
Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree.

 

 Day Five - Five Gold Rings

Day 5

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me - five golden rings

The first Five Books of the Old Testament or The Catholic Church's five obligatory sacraments: baptism, communion, confirmation, penance and last rites

   

Four calling birds
Three french hens
Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree.

 

 Day Six - Six Geese a Laying

Day 6

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me - six geese a laying

The six days of creation

   

Five gold rings
Four calling birds
Three french hens
Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree.

 

Day Seven - Seven Swans a Swimming

Day 7

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me - seven swans a swimming.

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments

   

Six geese a laying
Five gold rings
Four calling birds
Three french hens
Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree.

 

Day Eight - Eight Maids a Milking

Day 8

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me - eight maids a milking

The eight beatitudes or the eight times a year that Roman Catholics in those days were required to receive Holy Communion

   

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.

 

Day Nine - Nine Ladies Dancing

Day 9

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me - nine ladies dancing

The nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit

   

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.

 

Day Ten - Ten Lords a Leaping

Day 10

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me - ten lords a leaping

The Ten Commandments

   

Nine ladies dancing
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.

 

Day Eleven - Eleven Pipers Piping

Day 11

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me - eleven pipers piping

The eleven apostles, excluding Judas

   

Ten lords a leaping
Nine ladies dancing
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.

 

Day Twelve - Twelve Drummers Drumming

Day 12

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me - twelve drummers drumming

The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

   

Eleven pipers piping
Ten lords a leaping
Nine ladies dancing
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.