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Stephen 's Day, as being the feast day of St. Stephen Protomartyr , to the day before Epiphany, or the Feast of the Epiphany 6 January, or the Twelfth Day.
Twelfth Night is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "the evening of the fifth of January, preceding Twelfth Day, the eve of the Epiphany, formerly the last day of the Christmas festivities and observed as a time of merrymaking.
The best known English version was first printed in in a book intended for children, Mirth without Mischief , as a memorisation game to be played on Twelfth Night.
Participants were required to repeat a verse of poetry recited by the leader. Players who made an error were required to pay a penalty, in the form of offering a kiss or confection.
In the northern counties of England, the song was often called the "Ten Days of Christmas", as there were only ten gifts.
It was also known in Somerset , Dorset , and elsewhere in England. The kinds of gifts vary in a number of the versions, some of them becoming alliterative tongue-twisters.
It is mentioned in the section on "Chain Songs" in Stith Thompson 's Motif-Index of Folk-Literature Indiana University Studies, Vol.
There is evidence pointing to the North of England, specifically the area around Newcastle upon Tyne , as the origin of the carol.
Husk, in the excerpt quoted below, stated that the carol was "found on broadsides printed at Newcastle at various periods during the last hundred and fifty years", i.
In addition, many of the nineteenth century citations come from the Newcastle area. Halliwell , writing in , stated that "[e]ach child in succession repeats the gifts of the day, and forfeits for each mistake.
Salmon, writing from Newcastle, claimed in that the song "[had] been, up to within twenty years, extremely popular as a schoolboy's Christmas chant".
Husk, writing in , stated: . This piece is found on broadsides printed at Newcastle at various periods during the last hundred and fifty years.
On one of these sheets, nearly a century old, it is entitled "An Old English Carol," but it can scarcely be said to fall within that description of composition, being rather fitted for use in playing the game of "Forfeits," to which purpose it was commonly applied in the metropolis upwards of forty years since.
The practice was for one person in the company to recite the first three lines; a second, the four following; and so on; the person who failed in repeating her portion correctly being subjected to some trifling forfeit.
Thomas Hughes , in a short story published in , described a fictional game of Forfeits involving the song: . So the party sat down round Mabel on benches brought out from under the table, and Mabel began, The second day of Christmas my true love sent to me two turtle-doves, a partridge, and a pear-tree;.
The third day of Christmas my true love sent to me three fat hens, two turtle-doves, a partridge, and a pear-tree;.
The fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me four ducks quacking, three fat hens, two turtle-doves, a partridge, and a pear-tree;.
The fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me five hares running, four ducks quacking, three fat hens, two turtle-doves, a partridge, and a pear-tree.
And so on. Each day was taken up and repeated all round; and for every breakdown except by little Maggie, who struggled with desperately earnest round eyes to follow the rest correctly, but with very comical results , the player who made the slip was duly noted down by Mabel for a forfeit.
Barnes , stated that the last verse "is to be said in one breath". Scott , reminiscing about Christmas and New Year's celebrations in Newcastle around the year , described a performance thus: .
A lady begins it, generally an elderly lady, singing the first line in a high clear voice, the person sitting next takes up the second, the third follows, at first gently, but before twelfth day is reached the whole circle were joining in with stentorian noise and wonderful enjoyment.
Lady Gomme wrote in . It was a customary thing in a friend's house to play "The Twelve Days," or "My Lady's Lap Dog," every Twelfth Day night.
The party was usually a mixed gathering of juveniles and adults, mostly relatives, and before supper — that is, before eating mince pies and twelfth cake — this game and the cushion dance were played, and the forfeits consequent upon them always cried.
The company were all seated round the room. The leader of the game commenced by saying the first line. This was continued until the lines for the "twelve days" were said by every player.
For every mistake a forfeit — a small article belonging to the person — had to be given up. These forfeits were afterwards "cried" in the usual way, and were not returned to the owner until they had been redeemed by the penalty inflicted being performed.
According to The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes , "Suggestions have been made that the gifts have significance, as representing the food or sport for each month of the year.
Importance [certainly has] long been attached to the Twelve Days, when, for instance, the weather on each day was carefully observed to see what it would be in the corresponding month of the coming year.
Nevertheless, whatever the ultimate origin of the chant, it seems probable [that] the lines that survive today both in England and France are merely an irreligious travesty.
An anonymous "antiquarian", writing in , speculated that "pear-tree" is a corruption of French perdrix partridge , and "colley" a corruption of French collet ruff, hence "we at once have a bird with a ruff, i.
Cecil Sharp , writing in , observed that "from the constancy in English, French, and Languedoc versions of the 'merry little partridge,' I suspect that 'pear-tree' is really perdrix Old French pertriz carried into England"; and "juniper tree" in some English versions may have been "joli perdrix," [pretty partridge].
Sharp also suggests the adjective "French" in "three French hens", probably simply means "foreign". According to Iona and Peter Opie , the red-legged or French partridge perches in trees more frequently than the native common or grey partridge and was not successfully introduced into England until about William S.
Baring-Gould suggests that the presents sent on the first seven days were all birds —the "five gold rings" were not actually gold rings, but refer to the five golden rings of the ringed pheasant.
In , a Canadian hymnologist, Hugh D. McKellar, published an article, "How to Decode the Twelve Days of Christmas", in which he suggested that "The Twelve Days of Christmas" lyrics were intended as a catechism song to help young English Catholics learn their faith, at a time when practising Catholicism was against the law from until Three years later, in , Fr.
Hal Stockert wrote an article subsequently posted on-line in in which he suggested a similar possible use of the twelve gifts as part of a catechism.
James Gilhooley, chaplain of Mount Saint Mary College of Newburgh, New York. None of the enumerated items would distinguish Catholics from Protestants, and so would hardly need to be secretly encoded.
English composer Frederic Austin fitted the words to a traditional melody, to which he added his own two-bar motif for "Five gold rings".
The time signature of this song is not constant, unlike most popular music. This irregular meter perhaps reflects the song's folk origin.
The introductory lines "On the [ n th] day of Christmas, my true love gave to me", are made up of two 4 4 bars , while most of the lines naming gifts receive one 3 4 bar per gift with the exception of "Five gold rings", which receives two 4 4 bars, "Two turtle doves" getting a 4 4 bar with "And a" on its fourth beat and "partridge in a pear tree" getting two 4 4 bars of music.
In most versions, a 4 4 bar of music immediately follows "partridge in a pear tree". The successive bars of three for the gifts surrounded by bars of four give the song its hallmark "hurried" quality.
The second to fourth verses' melody is different from that of the fifth to twelfth verses. Before the fifth verse when "Five gold rings" is first sung , the melody, using solfege , is "sol re mi fa re" for the fourth to second items, and this same melody is thereafter sung for the twelfth to sixth items.
However, the melody for "four colly birds, three French hens, two turtle doves" changes from this point, differing from the way these lines were sung in the opening four verses.
In the final verse, Austin inserted a flourish on the words "Five gold rings". This has not been copied by later versions, which simply repeat the melody from the earlier verses.
A similar melody, possibly related to the "traditional" melody on which Austin based his arrangement, was recorded in Providence, Rhode Island in and published in In the 19th century, most sources for the lyrics do not include music, and those that do often include music different from what has become the standard melody.
Cecil Sharp's Folk Songs from Somerset contains two different melodies for the song, both distinct from the now-standard melody.
Musical setting from Edward Rimbault 's Nursery Rhymes, with the Tunes to which They Are Still Sung in the Nurseries of England c.
This melody for "The Twelve Days" was published in It was "collected by the late Mr. John Bell, of Gateshead, about eighty years ago" [i. This melody was current in "country villages in Wiltshire", according to an newspaper article.
Several traditional audio recordings were made by folklorists which use melodies predating the now standard version written by Frederic Austin.
Peter Kennedy recorded the Copper family of Sussex , England singing a version in which differs slightly from the common version,  whilst Helen Hartness Flanders recorded several different versions in the s and 40s in New England ,     where the song seems to have been particularly popular.
Edith Fowke recorded a single version sung by Woody Lambe of Toronto , Canada in ,  whilst Herbert Halpert recorded one version sung by Oscar Hampton and Sabra Bare in Morgantown , North Carolina One interesting version was also recorded in in Deer , Arkansas, performed by Sara Stone;  the recording is available online courtesy of the University of Arkansas.
Since , the cumulative costs of the items mentioned in the song have been used as a tongue-in-cheek economic indicator.
Assuming the gifts are repeated in full in each round of the song, then a total of items are delivered by the twelfth day.
The former is an index of the current costs of one set of each of the gifts given by the True Love to the singer of the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas".
The latter is the cumulative cost of all the gifts with the repetitions listed in the song. The people mentioned in the song are hired, not purchased.
The index has been criticised for not accurately reflecting the true cost of the gifts featured in the Christmas carol. John Julius Norwich 's book, The Twelve Days of Christmas Correspondence , uses the motif of repeating the previous gifts on each subsequent day, to humorous effect.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. English Christmas carol. Older Musical settings of "Twelve Days of Christmas". This section needs additional citations for verification.
Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.
January Learn how and when to remove this template message. Main article: Christmas Price Index. William B. Sandys refers to it as a "convivial glee introduced a few years since, 'A Pie [i.
Once so merrily hopp'd she; Heigh O! Twice so merrily, etc. Thrice so, etc. Armour Publishing.
As with the Easter cycle, churches today celebrate the Christmas cycle in different ways. Practically all Protestants observe Christmas itself, with services on 25 December or the evening before.
But Do You Recall? Called Christmastide or Twelvetide, this twelve-day version began on December 25, Christmas Day, and lasted until the evening of January 5.
During Twelvetide, other feast days are celebrated. Opie and I. Mirth without Mischief. London: Printed by J.
Davenport, George's Court, for C. Sheppard, no. A Partridge in a Pear Tree: A Comedy in One Act. New York: Samuel French.
Active Bible Church of God, Chicago Hyde Park , Illinois. Archived from the original on 17 August Retrieved 16 December Annotations reprinted from Years of Christmas by Earl W.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved 8 December Newcastle: Angus — via Bodleian Library. The Nursery Rhymes of England.
London: Richards. Nursery Rhymes, with the Tunes to Which They Are Still Sung in the Nurseries of England.
According to its preface p. For the date of , see this catalogue from the Bodleian Library p. The Nursery Rhymes and Nursery Tales of England Fifth ed.
London: Frederick Warne and Co. Notes and Queries. London: George Bell. The Caledonian. Johnsbury, VT. Boston, MA: Ticknor and Fields.
The Cliftonian December Clifton, Bristol: J. Jolly Games for Happy Homes. July—September The Journal of American Folk-Lore. Lancaster, PA: American Folk-Lore Society.
XXX CXVII : — Taken down by G. Kittredge, Dec. Lewis of Barnstaple, Mass. Lewis learned the song when a young girl from her grandmother, Mrs.
Sarah Gorham. Notes on the Folk-lore of the Northern Counties of England and the Borders. London: Satchell, Peyton and Co.
Dorset County Chronicle and Somersetshire Gazette : The Monthly Chronicle of North-country Lore and Legend. Zu den erfolgreichen Parodien zählen die Aufnahme The Twelve Gifts of Christmas des Comedians Allan Sherman , Frank Kellys Christmas Countdown , die sich in den irischen Single Charts platzieren konnte, sowie die Version von Bob und Doug McKenzie, zwei Figuren aus der kanadischen Comedysendung Second City TV , die von Rick Moranis und Dave Thomas verkörpert wurden.
Eine zumindest textlich authentische Version von The Twelve Days of Christmas nahm der US-amerikanische Country-Musiker John Denver zusammen mit den Muppets für das Album A Christmas Together auf.
Zu Weihnachten veröffentlichte Blizzard Entertainment eine an ihr Computerspiel StarCraft angelehnte Fassung als MP3 -Datei.
In diesem Album befindet sich ebenfalls eine Parodie von The Twelve Days of Christmas. Der Oscar -nominierte Kurzfilm On the Twelfth Day handelt von einer Frau, deren Freund Truelove sie nach den Angaben im Lied beschenkt und damit für Chaos sorgt.
Das Lied wird dabei analog zur Handlung gesungen. Seitdem wird die Preisentwicklung jährlich verfolgt, so dass mit dem Christmas Price Index ein Preisindex ermittelt wurde, der zwar als wissenschaftlicher Witz betrachtet wird, dessen Verlauf aber gut die allgemeine Preisentwicklung in den Vereinigten Staaten wiedergibt.
Zur Ermittlung des Weihnachtspreisindexes werden verschiedene Quellen genutzt. Für die Vögel werden die Preise in Zoohandlungen, dem Zoo von Cincinnati und dem National Aviary in Pittsburgh angefragt.
Der Preis der Goldringe wird von einem Juwelier ermittelt, der Preis für den Birnbaum basiert auf den Angeboten einer Baumschule in Philadelphia.
Für die verschiedenen Musiker, Tänzer und Mägde werden die entsprechenden Tariflöhne in die Berechnung einbezogen.
Neben dem normalen Weihnachtspreisindex, in dem die Kosten für einen Birnbaum, ein Rebhuhn, zwei Tauben, drei Hühner usw.
Diese Kosten setzen sich somit aus den Preisen für insgesamt Güter zusammen 12 Birnbäume und Rebhühner, 22 Tauben, 30 Hühner usw.
Dies ist die gesichtete Version , die am Mai markiert wurde. Es gibt 1 ausstehende Änderung , die noch gesichtet werden muss.
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