Music

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

Brenna Zedan
115 votes 16 voters 12 items

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?

Five Golden Rings is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Ranking What Your True Love Sent Over The Twelve Days Of Christmas
Photo: Xavier Romero-Frias/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0
1
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.

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Two Turtle Doves is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Ranking What Your True Love Sent Over The Twelve Days Of Christmas
Photo: Xavier Romero-Frias/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0
2
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.

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A Partridge in Pear Tree... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Ranking What Your True Love Sent Over The Twelve Days Of Christmas
Photo: Xavier Romero-Frias/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0
3
A Partridge in Pear Tree

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

Some variants of the song, such as as the 1877 Kittredge or the 1882 Barnes versions, replace "pear tree" with "juniper tree."   Sharp's 1905 version may differ the most, claiming a gift of "Goldie ring, and the part of a June apple tree."

PNC's 2017 entry in their annual accounting of the 12 Days of Christmas noted that the rising cost of a partridge in a pear tree, from $189.99 to $199.95, was due to an increase in cost of living and decrease of appropriately mature trees. Regardless of which song version's tree is used, the cost of a healthy and mature fruiting tree will be the bulk of this gift - and doesn't even take into account the expense involved in transplanting fully grown trees.

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Six Geese-A-Laying is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Ranking What Your True Love Sent Over The Twelve Days Of Christmas
Photo: Xavier Romero-Frias/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0
4
Six Geese-A-Laying

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

As the verses pass the midway mark of the song, the different versions mostly begin to agree on what was received each day. Even so, there are enough variants to generate one outlier, in this case the 1867 Cliftonian, preferring "ducks a-laying" over geese.

Egg-laying geese took quite a price jump in PNC's 2018 entry of their annual accounting of the 12 Days of Christmas. After a dramatic price drop in 2009 and an almost equally breathtaking jump in 2014, geese prices began to rise again in 2018, reaching a new high of $390.

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