Twelve days of Christmas

  • The twelve days of Christmas is a time period with its roots in medieval times. We will look at when the twelve days of Christmas fall, their purpose, the origins of a famous song celebrating the twelve days of Christmas, and some examples of the term’s use in sentences.


    The twelve days of Christmas are the twelve days following Christmas day. Traditionally, English peasants were allowed this time away from all work except tending animals. This respite ended the day after January 6th, or the Feast of the Epiphany. January 6th was also known as Twelfth Night, a setting of one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays. The twelve days of Christmas is memorialized in an English carol of the same name. Some believe that the song TheTwelve Days of Christmas is simply a children’s song, but others believe it was written during a time when Catholicism was outlawed in England, as a way to pass along basic tenets of the faith. For instance, four calling birds stood for the four Gospels, three French hens stood for faith, hope and charity, etc. Today the idea of celebrating the twelve days of Christmas after Christmas day is nearly lost, with the push by retailers to concentrate on the days preceding Christmas day.



    I’ve had the Twelve Days of Christmas stuck in my head for three days, except it’s not really the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas–mainly because I can never remember anything past the “Five Golden Rings.” (The Houston Chronicle)

    Everybody in this group seems to like, especially, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” which I have always regarded as a tremendous chore, what with having to sing the same things over and over. (The Hartford Courant)

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