The song, of course, was borne out of the Catholic religion, with parts being foreign to those of us who hold different beliefs, and other parts that are foreign to people who reject Christianity outright. For the record, as far as I can tell, here is the rundown:
- A Partridge in a Pear Tree - Jesus Christ
- Two Turtle Doves - The Old and New Testaments
- Three French Hens - The three virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity
- Four Calling/Collie Birds - Four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
- Five Golden Rings - First five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch)
- Six Geese-a-Laying - Six days of creation before God's rest on the seventh day
- Seven Swans-a-Swimming - Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit
- Eight Maids-a-Milking - Eight Beatitudes
- Nine Ladies Dancing - Nine fruits of the Holy Spirit
- Ten Lords-a-Leaping - Ten Commandments
- Eleven Pipers Piping - Eleven faithful disciples
- Twelve Drummers Drumming -Twelve points of belief in the "Apostles' Creed"
By the way, in 2013, the cost for all of the literal gifts listed in the song has increased by 7.7% (which was already 6% higher than 2011), totaling $27,393.
One website points out, "If you follow the song’s precise instructions, you are technically supposed to buy items consecutively on each of the 12 days." The assignment students worked on in class was to figure out you are buying a total of 364 items at once - a pear tree for each of the twelve days, for example. If you follow these rules, the real price of the 12 Days of Christmas rises to $114,651. The 2013 price of the 12 Days of Christmas is the highest in recorded history. What costs $107,300 this year cost half as much a decade ago. That means the price of these items has increased nearly 100% since since our current fourth graders were born.