Saturday, 3 January 2009

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me... nine wombats waddling!

One of the problems with the Christmas carol 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' are the words, not only what they mean but also what they should be.

In general, up until eight maids a-milking they are the same no matter which version you sing (although sometimes the four calling birds are mockingbirds instead, or even colly birds - an Old English name for blackbirds) but after that, it seems anything goes.

It seems that the gifts of the last four days can appear in pretty much any order. Instead of nine ladies dancing, ten lords a-leaping, eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming you could have nine drummers drumming, ten pipers piping, eleven ladies, or even dames, a-dancing, and the twelve lords a-leaping. There is even one variation in which ten fiddlers fiddle, so doing the pipers out of a job. (Of course What is Myrrh Anyway? goes into this in much greater detail.)

And then there are the alternative versions of 'The Twelve Days of Christmas'. One of my favourites has to be the Australian version.

The Aussie Twelve Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me,
A kookaburra in a gum tree.
On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me,
Two cockatoos, and a kookaburra in a gum tree.

Three parakeets.........
Four great galahs.......
Five opals black......
Six 'roos a-jumping........
Seven emus running.......
Eight koalas clinging.........
Nine wombats waddling........
Ten dingoes dashing.......
Eleven snakes a-sliding.......
Twelve goannas going.......

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Twelve goannas going,
Eleven snakes a-sliding,
Ten dingoes dashing,
Nine wombats waddling,
Eight koalas clinging,
Seven emus running,
Six 'roos a-jumping,
Five opals black,
Four great galahs,
Three parakeets,
Two cockatoos,
And a kookaburra up a gum tree!

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