The 12 days of Christmas always puzzled me. Why 12 days? I only got 1 day (two if you count Christmas Eve.) My Jewish friends got 8 days, so that wasn't it either. I thought perhaps it was for kids with one Jewish parent and one Christian. They added the 8 days of Chanukah and the 2 Christmas days and got 12.
I also assumed they were bad at math.
I found out recently that the 12 days refers to Dec 25th to sunset on Jan. 6th. The 12 days is pretty much an outdated phenomena today, except for this song.
The song is very easy to sing and its simple rhythm makes parody very easy. For example I wrote the following parody during a commercial break during Leave it to Beaver. It's about the Frank Capra film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington:
On the (first) day of Mr. Smith the White House sent to me
Twelve pieces of legislation
Ten pocket vetoes
Nine dead Vince Fosters
Eight Mile on DVD starring Eminem
Seven swans swimming in the reflecting pool below the Washington Monument (sing that part real fast)
Six greased palms
Five golden rules
Three French cuts of the film
Two ugly old ladies
A bald eagle in an oak tree
Let's take a look at the REAL lyrics in numerical order.
On the (first) day of Christmas my true love sent to me
A partridge in a pear tree
Two turtle doves
Three french hens
Four colly birds
Yup, that lyric is COLLY birds, not calling birds. Colly means black, so it is 4 black birds. Speaking of birds, what is the deal with all the birds. So far the true love has given 10 different birds and a tree! I bet the recipient was thinking "nice birds, but couldn't you buy me a sweater?"
Five gold rings
Yeah, GOLD! Now we are talking! But, isn't 5 over kill? Who are they buying this for Mr. T?
Six geese laying
Seven swans swimming
Good god! More birds! And some of these are laying, soon we will be over run with them.
Eight maids milking
Milking what? The swans?
Nine drummers drumming
Ten pipers piping
Eleven ladies dancing
Twelve lords leaping
People dancing and leaping. Not what I have on MY Christmas list, but it beats getting more birds.