why are there twelve days of Christmas?

I searched the archives to see if this had been answered but came up with nothing.
So why are there 12 days of Christmas?

May be true, may be apocryphal:

Certainly as good an explanation as I’ve heard. Reminiscent of the Black Plague explanation of “Ring Around the Rosies,” eh?

That doesn’t make any sense. The song isn’t nonsensical at all, but this guy’s theory certainly is.

Ten Lords a’Leaping means the Ten Commandments? The French Hens stand for Faith, Hope, and Charity? How’s a kid supposed to remember what stands for what?

So, why are there twelve days of Christmas, and when do they occur?

Will work for sig line.

Look here to see How Christmas Works.

According to Christian theology, the Three Wise Men visited the baby Jesus 12 days after his birth. Since the tradition of giving gifts at Christmas comes from the gifts the Wise Men gave, gifts would be given starting on Christmas day and continuing for 12 days; thus the gift for each day in the song.

“Drink your coffee! Remember, there are people sleeping in China.”

Dennis Matheson — dennis@mountaindiver.com
Hike, Dive, Ski, Climb — www.mountaindiver.com

I never thought 10 leapin’ lords made much sense in any context, honestly.

We now know (thanx AWB) that the 12 days are Christmas till Epiphany. Certainly they inspired the song, rather than the other way around.

This idea of it being a catechism memory aid sounds pretty hokie to me. Why not just use the numbers 1 to 12?

It’s not like the presents are related to what they are supposed to represent.

2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments?

Sorry, I don’t see the connection.

It is too clear, and so it is hard to see.

tanstaafl has it. the twelfth day being the day the three wise men came upon the baby jesus. this day (january 6) is known as the epithany. many countries celebrate this day. for example in Puerto Rico, and in the NYC area among the Puerto Rican population, this day is known as “Little Christmas” or “Three KIng’s Day”. i celebrate this day with my family. we exchange gifts on this day, though they are usually less expensive. Children leave oats or grass near their front door as an offering to the King’s camels and awake to a few trinkets and toys. I believ orthodox religions celebrate this day as well.

so you found a girl who thinks really deep thoughts. what’s so amazing about really deep thoughts? Tori Amos

Every year some person calculates what all that stuff would cost in the song. Anyone see the cost for this year?

Felices fiestas, psycat90.

In many Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Epiphany (Jan 6) is “Christmas”.

In both East and West in the Church calendar the Epiphany is the celebration of Christ become manifest to the world, originally ranking, liturgically, right behind Easter; the Gospel reading for that feast is the visit of the Magi (representing that peoples from the world would come to worship Him). The West gradually emphasized the hijacked Winter-Solstice celebration more.


In Western Civ we were taught that the 12 days of Christmas came about because the Christians were jealous of the 5-day Roman/Pagan Saturnalia at the end of the year.
Just my .02.