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Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas

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12 Days of Christmas Decorations
New 2020 Exclusive Series

Christmas is much more than a day. It’s actually a season. That’s the basis for the timeless Christmas carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” The popular holiday jingle celebrates the 12 days starting with Christmas Day on December 25th and running through January 6th (Twelfth Night). Historically, it’s been known as a time of merrymaking. And you know, there is nothing our elves like more than some very merry!

The elves at Annalee wanted to capture the essence of the song, as well as all the merrymaking, in a new three-part series called the 12 Days of Christmas. This holiday season the series features four exclusive designs representing days one through four. The super-cute 2020 holiday designs include the Partridge in a Pear Tree, Two Turtle Doves, Three French Hens, and Four Calling Birds, available together as a limited edition set. Don’t wait to start this collection, only 250 of each collector’s sets are available.

As the elves crafted these new designs, they kept wondering: What do partridges and turtle doves have to do with Christmas? Well, it’s a tale as old as time (almost).

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The History of the 12 Days of Christmas

The exact origins and meaning of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” are unknown. Most sources say the lyrics are probably from a children’s memory game that originated in France in the mid-1700s. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, the gifts for the 12 days represent foods, sports, or activities that were important at that time.

The earliest known English version of the words was first printed in 1780 in the children’s book Mirth Without Mischief as a game to be played on Twelfth Night. The lyrics were recited or chanted without music. It wasn’t until 1909 that a melody was added to the lyrics. Composer Frederic Austin adapted a traditional English folk song into the arrangement we know today. 

Art 1: Title page from the first-known publication of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” in 1780.  Unknown author. Mirth without Mischief.

Austin’s version standardized the song. The grand nature of the gifts mentioned (all 364 of them), however, has generally remained the same throughout the history of the song. Today, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is considered a holiday classic that is known and beloved by people all over the world. And it’s still a favorite of children. Especially when you belt out “five golden rings!”

 On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

A partridge in a pear tree

Day 2: Two turtle doves 

Day 3: Three French hens 

Day 4: Four calling birds 

Day 5: Five golden 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: Ten lords a-leaping

Day 11: Eleven pipers piping

Day 12: Twelve drummers drumming

Art 2: Illustration of “five gold rings,” from the first-known publication of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” (1780).

 Buying all 364 gifts, however, might be a little outside the budget for the average holiday shopper. Since 1984, PNC Bank has prepared a tongue-in-cheek calculation of what it would cost to give each gift mentioned in “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” The 2019 total was $170,298.03. Cha-ching! That’s why the elves at Annalee think the new 12 Days of Christmas series makes the perfect gift instead. It features all the grand gifts and merrymaking from the song without the unruly cost (and the mess caused by those geese a-laying).

Celebrate the Christmas season with the first collector’s set of the Annalee 12 Days of Christmas series and make it part of your holiday tradition for years to come. 

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More 2020 Holiday Exclusives

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