Lyric Analysis: The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas
A Holiday Lyric Analysis

On the first day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:

Right off the bat, here is a lover who knows how to celebrate a holiday. None of this Hallmark sentiment, one day only, awkward giftcard type of scenario here. No by god, this is just the first day. It sets you up to expect many more and on each one of those future days the love will be showered with gifts! Truly this is a festive season.  

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Well, that was unexpected.

On the second day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
2 Turtle Doves

Turtle doves are symbolic of devoted love so this is a very romantical style gift. But lest we get all swept up in the warm-fuzzies of the emotion, let’s be clear: the singer was just given two more birds to add to the first bird (and presumably tree) already given yesterday.

and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

The song does the repetitive countdown thing everybody loves so well, establishing symmetry (with a musical sledgehammer) through use of a sort of reverse da capo. “Play it again, Sam. But backwards.” Also, are we to presume these gifts are given cumulatively each day? Because if so at this point there’d actually be two partridges in two pear trees to balance the pair of turtle doves. Or is the love just recounting, upon receipt of the new gift, how glorious the previous day’s gift was?

On the third day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
3 French Hens

For cooking, no? I’m a vegetarian so this is an honest question. The hens are for a feast? Otherwise this lover needs to stop with all the birds. Assuming the song isn’t cumulative there’s now a partridge, two doves, and three hens all running madly around a single pear tree in this poor lover’s home.

On the fourth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
4 Calling Birds

Then again, can you ever have too many birds? Especially loud ones.

On the fifth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
5 Golden Rings

Finally jewelry! And serious jewelry too. “Three rings for the Elven-kings under the sky, seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die, One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne...” and five for the love with all the birds. There’s still only one ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, etc etc, but by god five of those rings of power are nothing to sneeze at.

On the sixth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
6 Geese a Laying

I am beginning to suspect that the true love’s identity may be Alfred Hitchcock.

On the seventh day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
7 Swans a Swimming

So here’s a curious thing. It specifies that the swans are “a Swimming” which means water is involved. Did the love just sneak seven swans into the bathtub in the dead of night or was a pool part of this gift? Is there already a pond on the love’s property or was one dug specifically so the swans could be gifted while a swimming? Walking swans are very gauche, after all.

On the eighth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
8 Maids a Milking

And presumably also eight cows? Unless the love already lives on a farm. I dare say even if this love was an urban dweller, the homestead is certainly NOW a farm. Additionally, are the maids only to be used for milking or can they do laundry and dishes in between?

On the ninth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
9 Ladies Dancing

OMIGOD I LOVE BALLET! BEST. GIFT. EVER.

On the tenth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
10 Lords a Leaping

Because you cannot have a proper pas de deux without men in tights.

On the eleventh day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
11 Pipers Piping

And now the band arrives. Give it up for the pipers! Pied or otherwise, all are welcome. Kick up your heels and dance, drink milk, take a dip in the swan pool, eat some pears...  

On the first day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
12 Drummers Drumming

Rum pa pum pum to you too. I personally think this gift is what Leeloo would describe as a “big bada boom” which is not necessarily a good thing but you have to admire a lover who is just going to GO THERE with a musical gift. Fuck yeah, twelve drummers. Couple this with The Little Drummer Boy and it’s clear Christmas is a special time for metalheads. RAWK. Lighters aloft!

 

- Corinne Simpson