12 Days of Christmas Recipes

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This year, let’s celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas with 12 Days of Christmas Recipes. One for each day, corresponding to the Christmas classic song. You will find ideas for recipes from sweet treats to savory goodies. Most of these Christmas foods are easy to make, and all are festive and fun!

Illustration of The 12 Days of Christmas

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The 12 Days of Christmas

Though best known as a classic song dating to the 1700s, the Twelve Days of Christmas is an observance beginning on December 25 and leading up to January 6, the day before Epiphany.

It’s a span of days between the birth of Jesus and the coming of the Magi. 

12 Days of Christmas Lyrics

Here are the 12 Days of Christmas Lyrics to refresh your memory of this classic Christmas song:

On the first day of Christmas
my true love sent to me: A Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the second day of Christmas
my true love sent to me: 2 Turtle Doves

On the third day of Christmas
my true love sent to me: 3 French Hens

On the fourth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me: 4 Calling Birds

On the fifth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me: 5 Golden Rings

On the sixth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me: 6 Geese a Laying

On the seventh day of Cristmas
my true love sent to me: 7 Swans a Swimming

On the eighth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me: 8 Maids a Milking

On the ninth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me: 9 Ladies Dancing

On the tenth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me: 10 Lords a Leaping

On the eleventh day of Christmas
my true love sent to me: 11 Pipers Piping

On the twelfth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me: 12 Drummers Drumming


Listen to Bing Crosby and the 12 Days of Christmas


When Does the 12 Days of Christmas Start?

The 12 days of Christmas is the set of days that marks the span between the birth of Christ and the coming of the Magi, the three wise men. It begins on December 25 (Christmas) and runs through January 6 (the Epiphany, sometimes also called Three Kings’ Day).

The four weeks preceding Christmas are known as Advent, which begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on December 24.

  1. A Partridge in a Pear Tree (December 25)
  2. Two Turtle Doves (December 26)
  3. Three French Hens (December 27)
  4. Four Calling Birds (December 28)
  5. Five Golden Rings (December 29)
  6. Six Geese a Laying (December 30)
  7. Seven Swans a Swimming (December 31) New Year’s Eve
  8. Eight Maids a Milking (January 1) New Year’s Day
  9. Nine Ladies Dancing (January 2)
  10. Ten Lords-a-Leaping (January 3)
  11. Eleven Pipers Piping (January 4)
  12. Twelve Drummers Drumming (January 5)

What are the origins of the 12 Days of Christmas?

The history of the carol is somewhat murky. The earliest known version first appeared in a 1780 children’s book called Mirth With-out Mischief. (A first edition of that book sold for $23,750 at a Sotheby’s auction in 2014, but you can also buy a digital copy on Amazon.) Some historians think the song could be French in origin, but most agree it was designed as a “memory and forfeits” game, in which singers tested their recall of the lyrics and had to award their opponents a “forfeit” — a kiss or a favor of some kind — if they made a mistake.

Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas with Food

There are so many ways to commomeorate this set of days during the holiday season. Here are some ideas to add fun and festivity to the days following Christmas:

12 Days of Christmas Recipes

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