Jingle Bells – Christmas Songs, Carols, The 12 Days of Christmas, Shoes and Spot the Movie References

Most of us have a favourite Christmas song or carol and equally one that can almost make you dislike the holiday season with a vengeance.  I have a real fondness for The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl and their ‘Fairytale of New York’, while for something traditionally Christmas for me it has to be a Christmas Carol, ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, after hearing children singing it in Durham Cathedral years ago. Although, kids driving you mad with their 1001st rendition of Jingle Bells is also pretty good. Especially when they are not your children and you only feel mildly guilty at giving them loads of encouraging “that was really fantastic – sing it again”, then telling your best friend and their grandmother that “you have to leave now” and make a dash for your car leaving her to the 1002nd rendition.

For the not so good Christmas offerings, some are just really annoying or just downright awful.  Heading this category (in my opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Scorpio team) is ‘the 12 days of Christmas’ or also known as mouth everything after ‘on the first day of Christmas my truelove gave to me’ until you can join in with ‘5 gold rings’ as loudly as possible.  My nightmare before Christmas is to be stuck in an elevator (great glass or otherwise) with that playing on the compulsory ‘musak’.

Now before you start thinking that I’m all bah humbug, scrooge and bad Santa, I absolutely love Christmas, particularly a white Christmas. It’s just I feel some aspects are perhaps best buried in the past.  I get more and more annoyed that the ‘creep up to Christmas’ now seems to begin straight after your summer holidays and before we have even had Halloween and Bonfire night! Now OK the true Christmas season doesn’t actually start until Christmas Day and I am not for one minute suggesting that we ignore it until then  – we all need time to give Christmas and whatever it means to you some thought and visit Santa of course,  but that’s what the four weeks of Advent before Christmas is for.

If you are wondering where the 12 days of Christmas came from; it is the period that in Christian theology marks the days between the birth of Christ and the coming of the Magi, the three wise men. It begins on Christmas day and runs through to Epiphany January 6th – sometimes also called Three Kings’ Day.  What this has to do with a relentlessly-stick-in-your-head Christmas song.  Well, I guess it is about Christmas gifts ….

“The 12 Days of Christmas” is a Christmas song in which the singer brags about all the mind-blowing gifts they received from their “true love” during the 12 days of Christmas. Each verse builds up on the previous one, making a really effective way to annoy family members who are forcing you take a road trip to visit relatives you only see once a year, you don’t like, smell funny and insist on giving you bad sherry and a wrinkly orange.

The lyrics to “The 12 Days of Christmas” have changed over the years from the earliest known version in a 1780 children’s book called Mirth With-out Mischief to the version that most people are familiar with today which begins with:

On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me a partridge in a pear tree.” The song then adds a gift for each day, building on the verse before it, until you’re reciting all 12 gifts together:

  • Day 2: two turtle doves
  • Day 3: three French hens
  • Day 4: four calling birds
  • Day 5: five gold rings
  • Day 6: six geese a-laying
  • Day 7: seven swans a-swimming
  • Day 8: eight maids a-milking
  • Day 9: nine ladies dancing
  • Day 10: 10 lords a-leaping
  • Day 11: 11 pipers piping
  • Day 12: 12 drummers drumming

Some historians think the song could be French in origin, but most agree it was designed as a memory and forfeits game, in which singers tested how well they could remember the lyrics and had to award their opponents a “forfeit” like a  a kiss or a favour of some kind, if they made a mistake.  Depending on who is doing the kissing, that could be worth a comeback. However, you probably wouldn’t want to give your truelove that lot as pressies this Christmas as giving someone all the gifts in the song would be pretty pricey to say the least – even if Google could help you source them! 

If you are nerdily curious like me the PNC Financial Services Group calculate the Christmas Price Index each year. The index calculates the cost of all the 364 gifts in the song based on current market rates; 2018’s total came to a whopping £132,346 if you counted each time a gift is mentioned. Then of course there is this years inflation …….

Even though, as you can tell, I dislike the song with a vengeance, it does leave itself wide-open to parodies that I think are way better than any of the traditional versions. My favourites are Jeff Foxworthy’s redneck version, Twisted Sister’s heavy metal take, and, of course, my personal best choice, the Muppets version with John Denver – God bless us every one and Jim Henson for that.

Right about now some of you may be wondering where shoes come in to this.  Lords, ladies, maids and drummers all need great and stylish shoes (which is where Scorpio comes in), Santa always need shiny black boots and don’t forget your fabulous shoes for all the Christmas parties you’ll be going to. 

One last thing – if your truelove does splash out this year  and follow “The 12 Days of Christmas” you will be needing a sturdy pair of wellies.  JUST THINK OF ALL THE BIRD POO and don’t even mention the mess 8 cows being milked would leave behind.

Happy Christmas one and all and have a wonderful life!

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