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ETpro's avatar

In the carol, "12 Days of Christmas." just how many of each gift does the singer end up with?

Asked by ETpro (34563points) December 20th, 2011

Listen and count. Clearly it’s 12 partridges in pear trees because there is one given on each of the 12 days. And there are 12 drummers drumming given only on the 12th day. But on day 2 through 12, all the previous presents are repeated. So just how many turtle doves, french hens, calling birds, golden rings, geese a-laying, swans a-swimming, maids a-milking, ladies dancing, lords a-leaping, and pipers piping does the singer end up with?

As a present for your calculations, here’s the story of how this British Christmas Carol came to be. The link at the end of the explanation goes into why it speaks of 12 days of Christmas. To all those jellies that celebrate something at this time of the year, happy Holidays.

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9 Answers

JilltheTooth's avatar

At last count? All of them.

Coloma's avatar

As long as I get the six geese a’ laying..I’m happy, you can keep the damn Partridges, golden rings and lords a leaping. ;-p

MrItty's avatar

12 * 1 Drummers Drumming
11 * 2 Pipers Piping
10 * 3 Lords a Leapin
9 * 4 Ladies Dancing
8 * 5 Maids a Milkin
7 * 6 Swans a Swimmin
6 * 7 Geese a Layin
5 * 8 Golden Rings
4 * 9 Calling Birds
3 * 10 French Hens
2 * 11 Turtle Doves
1 * 12 Partridges in a Pear Tree.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Assuming the gifts really are recurring:

12 drummers drumming
22 pipers piping
30 lords-a-leaping
36 ladies dancing
40 maids-a-milking
42 swans-a-swimming
42 geese-a-laying
40 golden rings
36 colly birds
30 French hens
22 turtle doves
12 partridges in 12 pear trees

DominicX's avatar

It adds up to 364. Is there one extra thing somewhere that can make it add to 365? Because that would be a lot more meaningful…unless it refers to all the days except Christmas…

MrItty's avatar

@DominicX Yes, actually. Traditionally, the very last line is repeated. So one could argue that the narrator actually recieves 13 partridges, not 12.

judochop's avatar

seriously? Did that happen by mistake or is the writer just genius? Did MC Escher write this song?

Coloma's avatar

Jesus, you guys are making my head hurt…I never did those trick math questions well at all. :-P

ETpro's avatar

@JilltheTooth That’s a very practical if rather inspecific answer. :-)

@Coloma I know you love geese, but you’d get 6 geese a laying 7 times, for a total of 42 geese. That’s a lot of fowl to feed. :-)

@MrItty That’s pretty close to the calcualtion formula.

@SavoirFaire Thanks for doing the above math. Makes a nice modified Bell Curvce, no?

@DominicX Almost, but not quite.

@MrItty Bingo. Here’s the total. And isn’t it fascinating it covers the days from Christmas to Epiphany and the days of the standard year. Maybe the Lords a-Leaping take care of leap years. :-)

@judochop The odds that happened by chance are awfully slim.

@Coloma Don’t despair. While we play math games, somebody needs to mind that gaggle f geese.

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