The 12 Days of Christmas is one of those long-standing holiday songs that has a catchy tune but forgettable verses. I thought it would be fun to highlight some creative ways to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, along with a free lyrics printable.
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12 Days of Christmas Meaning
The song is fun, but what are the 12 days of Christmas anyway?
In Christian theology, the 12 days of Christmas marks the time period between the birth of Christ (Dec. 25) and the Epiphany, or the coming of the Magi (Jan. 6).
The Epiphany is considered “the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles” (Merriam-Webster), so it holds great importance in the Christian tradition:
“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”– Matthew 2:11
The Eastern Church also commemorates the 12th day after Christmas as the baptism of Christ.
Indeed, Christians celebrate a Christmas season, to include the start of Advent (four Sundays before Christmas) and the arrival of the Magi (12 days after Christmas).
So what does the Christmas carol mean, then, and is it related to the Christian meaning?
What are “The 12 Days of Christmas” Lyrics?
To get the gist of the song, let’s start with the lyrics themselves.
The carol begins:
The song then adds one more object to the list for each of the verses 2-12, repeating the prior days’ gifts.
- A Partridge in a Pear Tree
- Two Turtle Doves
- Three French Hens
- Four Calling Birds
- Five Golden Rings
- Six Geese A-Laying
- Seven Swans A-Swimming
- Eight Maids A-Milking
- Nine Ladies Dancing
- Ten Lords A-Leaping
- Eleven Pipers Piping
- Twelve Drummers Drumming
“Five golden rings” also gets a special emphasis because hey, they’re gold!
By verse 12, you’ll need help remembering all the gifts, which is why I have a handy lyrics printable for you at the end of this post!
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What does “The 12 Days of Christmas” song represent?
I had no idea there were so many conflicting explanations on the origin of The 12 Days of Christmas!
According to Vox, the earliest version of the Christmas carol appeared in a children’s book called Mirth Without Mischief in 1780.
Many believe the song was created as a memory-and-forfeit game challenging its players to remember all the verses lest they “forfeit” a prize or a kiss.
However, some Catholic scholars claim the carol was used during times of persecution to disguise the teachings of the church after Reformation in England. (You can read more about that explanation here.)
The website Snopes debunked this theory, citing no evidence that the song carries a hidden code.
Regardless of which origin story you believe, this Christmas carol has become a part of popular culture that is certain to continue for many generations.
Best Gifts to Celebrate The 12 Days of Christmas
For those who can’t resist the vivid imagery in this carol, there are countless gift ideas to help you celebrate in style.
Twelve Days of Christmas Ornament Sets
You can find gorgeous ornaments like the ones below to symbolize each of the twelve days. How great would it be to give one of these to your true love each day?
Cross-Stitch and Embroidery Patterns
If you’re into DIY crafts like cross-stitching, sewing or embroidery, grab one of the kits below that come with detailed patterns to make your own art!
Themed Totes and Treat Bags
For a fun spin on the twelve days tradition, try giving treats in either these little treat bags or a giant tote bag.
12 Days of Christmas Art and Decor
You can also find stunning decor for your home with a “twelve days of Christmas” theme. Check out that incredible wreath!
Need a gift ASAP? Try these ready-to-ship gifts that ship out in only 1-3 days!
12 Days of Christmas Lyrics Printable – Free Download!
To celebrate this festive Christmas carol, I’ve made a 12 Days of Christmas Lyrics Printable to use for caroling or displaying on your walls.
To download your own copy for FREE, simply subscribe to my newsletter below. Current subscribers can visit the VIP Library and enter the password from your most recent e-mail.
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Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays!