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"The Twelve Days of Christmas" Items and Their Cost

Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She writes articles that are interesting to her readers.

The twelve days of Christmas span from December 25th to January 5th.

The twelve days of Christmas span from December 25th to January 5th.

Most people are familiar with the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas." It's about gifts that are sent to a lover during the twelve days from Christmas Day, December 25th, until January 5th.

This is the 37th year PNC Wealth Management Christmas Price Index has done the math. Most years, the price of each item goes up. Now in 2020, some gifts are more expensive than ever before, and some gifts remain the same as last year. What is really different this year is that several of the items are not available because of COVID-19. Those gifts include live performances by humans from Day 9 through 12. (See the chart below).

Day of ChristmasGift to True Love2020 Costs

First

Partridge in Pear Tree

$210.18

Second

Two Turtle Doves

$450.00

Third

Three French Hens

$210.00

Fourth

Four Calling Birds

$599.96

Fifth

Five Golden Rings

$845.00

Sixth

Six Geese-a-Laying

$470.00

Seventh

Seven Swans-a-Swimming

$13,125.00

Eighth

Eight Maids-a-Milking

$58.00

Ninth

Nine Ladies Dancing

$7,552.84 in 2019; not available in 2020 because of COVID-19

Tenth

Ten Lords-a-Leaping

$10,000.00 in 2019; not available in 2020 because of COVID-19

Eleventh

Eleven Pipers Piping

$2,748.87 in 2019; not available in 2020 because of COVID-19

Twelfth

Twelve Drummers Drumming

$2,972.25 in 2019; not available in 2020 because of COVID-19

Origin of the Song

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" is an English Christmas carol and a cumulative song itemizing a list of increasingly grand gifts given on each of the twelve days of Christmas. The song was published in England in 1780 without music as a chant.

The items are unusual for gifts. Most people don't understand the meaning behind the gifts. However, the meaning goes much deeper than meets the eye. Think of why so many birds are included in the song. At the time the song was written, food was a big part of celebrations for the twelve days of Christmas. Some people think the birds were cooked to be part of the feast just as a turkey is part of the traditional Thanksgiving.

After a festive meal, there was music, singing, and dancing as part of the festivities. That's why there are some many people dancing and singing in the song.

A partridge in a pear tree

A partridge in a pear tree

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

The partridge is the cheapest item on the list. The partridge and the pear tree don’t come as a package deal. The tree costs $189.99. Therefore, both items will cost you $210.18. The pear tree is priced like the ones that come from a local Philadelphia nursery. The price of the partridge is determined by the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.

Two turtle doves

Two turtle doves

Two Turtle Doves

The cost of turtle doves dropped was $300 in 2019. The turtle doves reached the highest increase of any item on this year’s list. They increased by over 50 percent in cost from last year because of the demand for them. Therefore, the pair costs $450.

Doves are a common symbol of love and peace. They are two Christmas themes. The turtle dove mates for life, so the giving of two turtle doves could be a way the lover is expressing his intention of love and marriage.

The price of the two turtle doves, like the partridge and French hen prices, is determined by the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.


Three french hens

Three french hens

Three French Hens

There are such things as French hens. However, they don't speak French. French hens were originally bred in France as a utility fowl. They were used for both eggs and meat but are now primarily raised for the exhibition.

The price of the three French hens has not changed in the last four years. They used to cost $181.50. The three French hens' prices, like the partridge and two turtle doves, are determined by the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.

French hens cost more in 2020. This trio will cost your true love $210.00. That's a 15 percent increase from last year.

Four calling birds

Four calling birds

Four Calling Birds

This is the third year the four calling birds have cost the same amount. They will set you back for $599.96, the same as last year. The price of a calling bird is similar to the price of a canary at Petco.

Many versions of the song use calling birds rather than collie birds. Some believe the calling birds in the song might be a variation of the collie birds which are also known as blackbirds.

Why would the person in the song give his true love a gift of blackbirds? The answer is that this would have been another gift of food. Blackbirds were plentiful and were a common food.

Five golden rings

Five golden rings

Five Golden Rings

The price of gold has increased from last year. The price of five gold rings was $825 in 2019. In 2020, they cost $945 because the price of gold increased.

The golden rings in the song may actually refer to ring-necked pheasants to keep with the theme of birds. Pheasants were a prized bird as they were both tasty and had long been associated with the nobility. So the five golden rings refer to five ring-necked pheasants, a dish that was sure to be served at some of the king's feasts during the Twelve Days of Christmas celebrations. That makes sense because there are birds in many of the first verses of the song.

Six geese-a-laying

Six geese-a-laying

Six Geese-a-Laying

The price of the six geese-a-laying in 2019 was $420. With a 35 percent price increase this year, the geese cost $570. That's the second-highest increase of all the gifts.

To gift someone with a goose is special, but to give six is very special. Not only are the geese valuable, but they also lay eggs which increases their value.

Seven swans-a-swimming

Seven swans-a-swimming

Seven Swans-a-Swimming

The seven swans swimming are not a bargain at all. In fact, they are the most expensive items in the song. Even though the price has been the same as the last four years, the swans aren't cheap. The price is still $13,125.

Swans have been known to be associated with royalty. Perhaps that's why they are so expensive. They are often used as royal symbols and part of other decorations. Swans are often included in myths and love stories.

Eight maids-a-milking

Eight maids-a-milking

Eight Maids-a-Milking

The maids are unskilled laborers who get only the federal minimum wage. All eight of them cost only $58.00. Their fee has not changed in a decade.

Milk was not a common drink. It was reserved for special occasions. All eight maids were needed to keep the milk available during the twelve days of celebration.

At that time, it was the job of women to do the milking, and maids would have been available for that chore since they were not married with a family to take care of. The maids are allowed to milk cows as long as they maintain social distancing and wear face masks.

Nine ladies dancing

Nine ladies dancing

Nine Ladies Dancing

Music and dancing were a big part of the celebrations at the time the song was written. Therefore, it is not unusual for the songwriter to want to entertain the true lover with nine ladies dancing.

A Philadelphia dance company estimates the salary for the nine ladies dancing as entertainment. The nine ladies don't come cheap. Their fee for the last seven years has been $7,552.84.

The lover has a good excuse not to dish out that amount or any amount for the performance of nine ladies because they are not available in 2020 due to the coronavirus.

10 lords-a-leaping

10 lords-a-leaping

Ten Lords-a-Leaping

Just like the nine ladies dancing to provide entertainment, ten lords leaping could be there for the same reason. They are also unavailable in 2020 for the same reason.

The ten lords leaping probably refer to dancers who performed leaping dances between courses at feasts. Their dance was wild and energetic and was a popular form of entertainment. The lords were professional dancers brought in to entertain the guests while they ate.

The Philadelphia Ballet estimates the salary for all leaping lords is a nice round figure of $10,000.

11 pipers piping

11 pipers piping

Eleven Pipers Piping

Keeping with the themes of entertainment, music, and dancing, there are 11 pipers piping.

The pipers are like the other entertainers in the song. They are probably professional bagpipe musicians hired to entertain the guests and to provide music suitable for listening to and for dancing.

The cost for eleven pipers won't cost the lover anything this year. They are not available to perform because of COVID-19.

12 drummers drumming

12 drummers drumming

Twelve Drummers Drumming

The 12 drummers come at the end of the song to conclude it. They don't drum for free. In 2019, the cost for the drummers' performance was $2,972.25. The going rate for drummers and pipers was set by a Pennsylvania musicians' union, but the twelve drummers are not available to perform this year because of COVID-19.

Total Cost

The total cost for all twelve of the gifts mentioned in the song came to $170,298.03 in 2019. Because four of the live performances of humans cannot be gifted in 2020, the total comes to $105,561.80.

Comments

Logan on December 06, 2019:

this is awsome

ttv.cav on December 05, 2019:

nice