Christmas Songs Day 12: 12 Days of Christmas

Anyone surprised? Anyone? Didn’t think so 😀

As a kid, I was always fascinated by the idea of 12 days of Christmas. Do you get presents all 12 days? or just do celebration stuff? Either way, I wanted it. Wikipedia says it begins on Christmas day and ends on Twelfth Night, which is apparently what Shakespeare was writing his play “Twelfth Night” to be performed on. The idea, apparently, is that by the end of Christmas, music, riotous drinking, and merriment were in full swing, so a play about confusing a woman for a man and vice versa would be just the thing to play up the atmosphere of revelry.

The song comes to us from 1780, when it may have been French; Eddie Izzard has a great bit about why we love this song so much (and how to sing the US National Anthem):

Fun fact of the day: apparently it’s not “Four calling birds”, but “four Colly birds”, which is another name for a blackbird. Here’s the whole rundown:

  • 12 Drummers Drumming
  • 11 Pipers Piping
  • 10 Lords-a-Leaping
  • 9 Ladies Dancing
  • 8 Maids-a-Milking
  • 7 Swans-a-Swimming
  • 6 Geese-a-Laying
  • ~5 GOLD RINGS!~
  • 4 Colly Birds
  • 3 French Hens
  • 2 Turtle Doves
  • And A Partridge in a Pear Tree.

Of course, the song has inspired many parodies. It may be the most parodied christmas song of all time. See the zombie version:

The twelve days of minecraft:

Twelve days of Starcraft (this was an official release by Blizzard!):

The twelve days of Phineas and Ferb:

Redneck version by Jeff Foxworthy:

and on and on, ad nauseum. This is on top of the infinite cover versions of the straight up song:

A rock version from Reliant K:

A classic version by the muppets:

Belle and Sebastian:

For once, there’s no Glee version! Rejoice!

Alright, confession time. Is anyone else not bothering to listen to the entirety of a version? Because I get bored and wander off sometime around 6-7 days, once I see what they did for 5. That’s probably why the Straight No Chaser version is my favorite; they can’t keep it all straight either:

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3 Responses to Christmas Songs Day 12: 12 Days of Christmas

  1. Rob F says:

    The most played parody/novelty version here is undoubtedly the one done by fictional characters Bob and Doug McKenzie. Many of the stereotypes of my country….

  2. Firedrake says:

    “Its meaning, if it has any, has yet to be satisfactorily explained.”

    Five braaaaiins!

    I think that the song’s probably too long as it stands – the Foxworthy version sidesteps that nicely. Fine if you’re singing it in a circle, not so good for sitting and listening to, since there’s not really that much of interest in the music. Apparently when this song first came to England it was played as game…

    My favourite of these is the Straight No Chaser version. And after they did… that thing that they did about 1:30, which I won’t spoil for people who may not have listened yet, I’ve ordered CDs.

  3. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, December 14th 2012 « The Slacktiverse

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