Twelve Days of Christmas

Christmas Carol - English Vocabulary


The Twelve days of Christmas is a song where each verse is built on top of the previous verses.

The song starts: On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.

It then adds the next verse and repeats the last one: On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree. This continues by adding the other verses one at a time.

You will notice that each verse is a gift that was received by the true love of the person who is singing.

The twelve verses are as follows:

(The full lyrics appear towards the end of the page)

Twelve days of Christmas Song

Different Versions

This Christmas song was created around 1780 and has had a few changes over the centuries.

The original version uses 5 gold rings though nowadays 5 golden rings is more common due to the extra syllable that is sung to continue with the same rhythm.

The original version mentions 4 colly birds. Back then, colly was another way of saying black and they were most likely referring to blackbirds. However the word came into disuse over the years and since 1909 has been replaced by 4 calling birds.

Some versions use my true love sent to me instead of gave to me.



Full lyrics of 12 days of Christmas

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

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
2 turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
3 French hens,
2 turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
4 calling birds,
3 French hens,
2 turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
5 golden rings,
4 calling birds,
3 French hens,
2 turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
6 geese-a-laying,
5 golden rings,
4 calling birds,
3 French hens,
2 turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
7 swans-a-swimming,
6 geese-a-laying,
5 golden rings,
4 calling birds,
3 French hens,
2 turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
8 maids-a-milking,
7 swans-a-swimming,
6 geese-a-laying,
5 golden rings,
4 calling birds,
3 French hens,
2 turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
9 ladies dancing,
8 maids-a-milking,
7 swans-a-swimming,
6 geese-a-laying,
5 golden rings,
4 calling birds,
3 French hens,
2 turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
10 lords-a-leaping,
9 ladies dancing,
8 maids-a-milking,
7 swans-a-swimming,
6 geese-a-laying,
5 golden rings,
4 calling birds,
3 French hens,
2 turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
11 pipers piping,
10 lords-a-leaping,
9 ladies dancing,
8 maids-a-milking,
7 swans-a-swimming,
6 geese-a-laying,
5 golden rings,
4 calling birds,
3 French hens,
2 turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
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 golden rings,
4 calling birds,
3 French hens,
2 turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.

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See our page about Christmas Traditions and Vocabulary.




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