Growing up I remember many things about Christmas....some I understood and some....well...totally confused me. The Christmas song, "12 Days of Christmas" was one of those things. I knew it was a catchy tune...and I knew it was a tradition Christmas song. But I didn't understand the song.... what it meant. All I knew it was this weird, catchy Christmas song that everyone sang. It was weird because it talked about sending partridges and gold rings, ladies dancing and milk maids milking...WHAT? And then....the obvious. It talked about the 12 days of Christmas?? What was that about? Of course, to any child, 12 days of Christmas sounded pretty good. I was intrigued. I wanted to know more. So...what is this song about and where did it originate? Well, it turns out that, like many of our Christmas traditions, it originated in Europe. Many people in countries across Europe actually celebrate Christmas for...you guessed it....12 days. So, what is the 12 days of Christmas? The 12 days of Christmas extends from December 25th (Jesus' birth) through the evening of January 5th (Epiphany - the coming of the Magi). This is one of those traditions that, for the most part, didn't carry over from Europe to The U.S. That's why this whole "12 days of Christmas" sounds so crazy. Turns out this song dates back to England in the middle ages. However, there are indications within the song itself (French hens) that it may actually originate from France. It was a game of sorts. A leader would begin the song and it would carry on with players taking turns. A verse was added each time....and whoever forgot the verses would have to hand over a sweet candy or give a kiss as a "penalty". Regardless of where the song originates or the meaning behind it, it remains a family favorite each Christmas. My family really gets into this song and many times you can catch us driving down the road singing verse after verse in much the same way it was originally intended. It's fun to sing! It's also great for memory work. Here's the song on youtube if you aren't familiar with it or want to teach it to your little ones:
Below I have included a "12 Days of Christmas" book for you. You can print it or simply read it in pdf format. We read it right on the computer screen. I also included black and white double books you can print off and allow your children to color themselves. Grab it below for FREE!