This past summer, we published a post about how songs can be considered a form of poetry.

Songs as poems are especially apparent throughout the holiday season with Christmas music playing in stores, over the radio, at Christmas events, and so many other places. 

Today marks twelve days until Christmas, so it is the perfect time for us to highlight the song (and poem), “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

A Few Facts: 

  1.  This song first appeared in print in 1780 and was originally a poem. The form of the poem was “Cumulative Verse,” which means that the form has patterned verse creating a longer story like all of the things someone receives for Christmas repeated.  
  2. If someone were to recreate this song, then they would likely spend more than $30,000 on the gifts. The recipient would receive 364 gifts. 
  3. After listening to this song, you may be wondering what a “calling bird” is? A calling bird is another name for a song bird. Since this song dates back a few centuries, it is thought that the lyric is actually “Four Colly Birds”, which refers to four blackbirds. 

An excerpt from The Twelve Days of Christmas: 

On the twelfth day of Christmas
my true love sent 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

You can find the full lyrics to the song here. We encourage you to pay careful attention to the pattern and stories within the song that characterize it as a cumulative verse form.

If you were to receive one of the gifts from the twelve days of Christmas, which would you prefer? I would probably prefer three French Hens since they would be helpful when making Christmas cookies. As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments! 

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