The 12 days of Christmas

Pastoral Messages | December 23, 2021

I’ve said it before, and I’ll mention it again in this setting—I’ve never liked the song The 12 Days of Christmas. In my opinion, there’s absolutely nothing redeeming about this song. No matter how many different versions have been created, they’re all awful. 

The lyrics are nonsensical. The repetitive tune gets stuck in your head for days. It takes approximately 8 minutes to sing the entire song through. And somewhere around the time you get to lords a leaping or pipers piping, you’ll surely be pining for a simpler carol like Silent Night or Joy to the World. 

Honestly, what I dislike most about The 12 Days of Christmas is that the entire song is simply rehashing a long list of gifts someone gave so they could convey deep and genuine love. Why anyone would want to be gifted that many different birds is beyond me… but that’s a whole other conversation. 

As people of faith, we’re well aware that the celebration of Christmas is about so much more than the number of presents underneath the tree or the giving of over-the-top gifts. Aside from gold, frankincense, and myrrh, the gospel stories don’t make much mention of extravagant gifts given in gratitude to God. As far as I’m aware, there’s no mention of a partridge in a pear tree anywhere in the Bible. And no maids a milking or swans a swimming either. 

Instead, what does God ask of us but to give gifts that are much less quantifiable. God asks for gifts like humility, kindness, gentleness, and peace. Gifts like justice, patience, and compassion that are apt to benefit both the giver and receiver. 

If ever you’re wondering what the best gifts are to give this time of year (or at any time, for that matter), I’d turn you to a much more beautiful tune than the 12 Days of Christmas. Something like the final words of In the Bleak Midwinter, whose lyrics might not be quite as much of an earworm but are much more accurate. “What can I give him? Give him my heart.” 

-Katy Warren, associate pastor

13 Comments on “The 12 days of Christmas”

  • Al Hutson

    January 1, 2022 at 4:49 pm

    I suppose next you’ll be picking on “Grandma got run over by a reindeer”. 😁 Happy New Year—hope you had a great Christmas.

  • Marcia Willi

    December 24, 2021 at 7:58 pm

    I have to say I don’t much care for the song either,find it annoying in the EXTREME! I DO however like the line from ” bleak midwinter”.
    Merry Christmas to you Allison and Micah

  • Karen Caldwell

    December 24, 2021 at 12:57 pm

    Thanks for your comment, Melanie. I never thought of “The twelve days of Christmas” as a Christmas carol, but as a fun, nonsensical song.

  • Cathy Crampton

    December 24, 2021 at 8:54 am

    If we had more patience, kindness, and compassion, towards others, our country, would not be in , such turmoil. Thank you, for this message, and reminding us, to be more caring towards others. Merry Christmas, to you and your family.

  • Jane Strittmater

    December 24, 2021 at 7:46 am

    I agree, never thought about the song much but now when I hear It your words will come through loud and clear. Merry Christmas!

  • Pat Koranda

    December 23, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    I love your sense of humor as well as your message. Thank you and Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  • Don Garrison

    December 23, 2021 at 4:19 pm

    Katy, I think it is a most enjoyable song, but more over I believe you are missing the meaning of each of the gifts and their direct relationship to our Christian faith. Perhaps you might want to search for the “meaning ‘ or “code”of the twelve days of Christmas and you might change your mind about thee song. A hint, you will find is that the first day’s gift is Jesus Christ ,our Lord and Savior. Those of you that read this might also like to make a little search before you shut down your computers. Merry Christmas and may God bless each and every one of us.

  • Audrey Keeney

    December 23, 2021 at 3:59 pm

    I agree, especially this year, we need to feel the comfort of giving our heart and of soothing music. We also need to be concerned with justice, patience, and compassion. Thanks for all you do.

  • Marilyn McDonald

    December 23, 2021 at 3:58 pm

    Merry Christmas to your and your family. Thank you for the wonderful Christmas message.

  • Melanie DiBernardo

    December 23, 2021 at 3:35 pm

    Sorry Katy but I have to disagree with you about The Twelve Days of Christmas. In these times of chaos and disruption I yearn for nonsensical entertainment.
    Years ago St Paul had an annual Madrigal Dinner during Christmas. I have a special memory of a time when young people from Augustana performed the song while acting out the gifts at the dinner. It was so fun!
    I do love the Traditional Carols but so enjoyed the nonsensical performance. I’ll act it out for you sometime 😊😊

  • Victoria Felger

    December 23, 2021 at 1:46 pm

    Well said, Pastor Katy….the only part of the 12 days I could ever remember was Fiiiiiive Gold Rings! Our world today needs kindness, compassion and love in such a huge measure that no leaping lords could replace it. Hugs and Christmas blessings, Katy!

  • Linda Cammilleri

    December 23, 2021 at 1:45 pm

    Yes, I totally agree with you. There are so many beautiful Christmas songs. I have many favorites but one of my favorite is “Mary Did You Know”. Merry Christmas to you and your family

  • Gerry Gjerde

    December 23, 2021 at 1:34 pm

    Thanks for a wonderful Christmas message. Best to you and yours.

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