Ranking What Your True Love Sent Over The Twelve Days Of Christmas

List Rules
Vote up the best things to receive from your true love during the twelve days of Christmas.

For such a simple song, The Twelve Days Of Christmas holds impressive depths. With well over twenty variations, each putting its own spin on each of the twelve cumulative verses, the possible permutations of what one's true love has given seem endless. One more common version has risen to the top over the years, from English composer Frederic Austin in 1909. It's this version that the PNC Bank has used to gauge its Christmas Price Index since 1984.

From the fluctuating actual prices of the items themselves to the depth of personal value each one holds, what day of Christmas is the best, based on the gifts given by your true love? Is the twelfth day the best because not only does the cost of musicians continue to rise, but music is basically priceless and also you also get all the presents from the past eleven days? Or is that just Too Much and you're quite satisfied stopping at three French hens, a handful of other birds and one fruiting tree?

Photo:

  • Five Golden Rings
    Photo: Xavier Romero-Frias / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
    1
    64 VOTES

    Five Golden Rings

    On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me,
    Five gold rings,
    Four calling birds,
    Three French hens,
    Two turtle doves, and
    A partridge in a pear tree.

    Though the most common variation in this verse is replacing "gold" with "golden," giving singers a steadier rhythm to follow, the 1864 Hughes verse substitutes rings of any kind for "hares running."

    After a 10% surge in 2017, the PNC's annual accounting of the 12 Days of Christmas shows that in 2018 the cost of five gold rings has dropped back down to the $750 range it held for several years.

  • Seven Swans-A-Swimming
    Photo: Xavier Romero-Frias / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
    2
    49 VOTES

    Seven Swans-A-Swimming

    On the seventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me,
    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.

    Other than the slight syllable variation - "swans swimming" rather than "swans a-swimming" - there is little difference among the versions of this verse. Yet, there is always one dissenter, this time Cole's 1900 version claiming "squabs a swimming," trading the expensive elegance of a swan for the utilitarian meat of a pigeon.

    Although swan prices were incredibly volatile in the early 2000s, according to PNC's annual accounting of the 12 Days of Christmas, they have held steady from 2012 to 2018, at around $13,000.

  • Two Turtle Doves
    Photo: Xavier Romero-Frias / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
    3
    56 VOTES

    Two Turtle Doves

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

    Kittridge's 1877 version swaps "two turtle doves" with "three French hens," the only variant other than the consistently contradictory 1905 Sharp verses (which brag of also receiving part of a mistletoe bough) to change the gift for second day of Christmas.

    PNC's annual accounting of the 12 Days of Christmas costs shows that the cost of turtle doves continues to hold steady at the more recent high of $375, though the joy of having a bonded pair of birds in your life is priceless.

  • Three French Hens
    Photo: Xavier Romero-Frias / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
    4
    50 VOTES

    Three French Hens

    On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me,
    Three French hens,
    Two turtle doves, and
    A partridge in a pear tree.

    Other than Kittridge's 1877 verses swapping "two turtle doves" with "three French hens," there is little difference in the multitude of song variations for this verse. Though the 1864 Hughes verse claims "fat hens," the intent remains remarkably the same.

    It's not clear if PNC's annual accounting of the 12 Days of Christmas is following the prices of the Faverolles chicken or not but, whatever breed they're following, the price has remained steadily under $200 for several years. Originally bred for both eggs and meat, the striking coloration of the Faverolles chickens have made them popular on the show circuit. The steady demand for such a useful bird has a large part in the French hen's steady price.