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Quiz about Twelve Days of Christmas
Quiz about Twelve Days of Christmas

Twelve Days of Christmas Trivia Quiz

The "Twelve Days of Christmas" is a very old Christmas song with the 'true love' receiving many presents over the period. I've given you all the presents all you have to do is put them in the correct order.

An ordering quiz by Midget40. Estimated time: 3 mins.
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3 mins
Order Quiz
Quiz #
Apr 22 24
# Qns
Avg Score
11 / 12
Top 10% Quiz
Last 3 plays: Steelflower75 (12/12), TAKROM (12/12), donkeehote (12/12).
Mobile instructions: Press on an answer on the right. Then, press on the question it matches on the left.
(a) Drag-and-drop from the right to the left, or (b) click on a right side answer, and then click on its destination box to move it.
Begin with the present received on day one and list them all in order until day twelve.
What's the Correct Order?Choices
(First Day)
Gold rings
Calling birds
Ladies dancing
French hens
Lords a-leaping
Turtle doves
Geese a-laying
Maids a-milking
Pipers piping
Swans a-swimming
(Twelfth Day)
Drummers drumming

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Today : Steelflower75: 12/12
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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Partridge

The twelve days of Christmas traditionally begin on Christmas Day and last until January 5th although some traditions have it beginning on December 26th through to January 6th. Either way the important dates are Christmas Day, the Epiphany and the days between them.

The practise began in the sixth century to unite the two dates. While the Western Church were celebrating Christmas on December 25th the Eastern Church at the time celebrated it on January 6th. This date is known as the Epiphany which is when the wise men visited Jesus. Alternatively, some churches recognise this as the day Jesus was baptised instead.
2. Turtle doves

It is unknown when or where the song first appeared. There is some rationale for it originating in France because of the lyrics but the first known version was published in English in 1780 in a book called "Mirth With-out Mischief".

There are many alternate lyrics and melodies but the version that is most commonly used today was arranged in 1909 by the English composer Frederic Austin.

One theory about the song is that it was written for what was known as a 'memory-and-forfeits' game. The leader would start with a line and then it would be repeated by the others. They would increase by one line each turn and the player had to repeat them all in the same order. If they got one wrong they were out of the game and had to pay some sort of prearranged penalty.
3. French hens

A lot of the gifts could be named after mispronunciation of French words while others are misheard English lyrics. A common mistake is for a 'partridge in a pear tree' to appear as 'part of a juniper tree'.

The fourth day also has differing words. 'Four calling birds' could have been taken from the word 'collet' in French which means coloured. Most sources believe it comes from an English dialect where they were 'colly birds'. Colly meant black so they were in fact four blackbirds.

'Five gold rings' (they became golden later) also has theories that they are actually birds like the rest of the first seven days. One suggestion is that they refer to a ringed pheasant while another is that they are gold birds like a goldfinch or canary.
4. Calling birds

The 'true love' in the song definitely ends up a winner in the present department. Somebody with a lot more time than me (although I did check the maths) decided to work out exactly how many they got over the 12 days.

Now if you just add them all together you get 78 presents which is nothing to sneeze at but this is an accumulative song. They got the partridge every day for 12 days. The turtle doves were given for 11 days, French hens for 10 etc.

The final tally is 364 presents which is made up of 40 gold rings, 140 people and 184 birds.
5. Gold rings

Just for another fun fact, the PNC Bank in the US decided to work out what the list would cost to purchase in 1984 and it was so popular that they now produce the list every year as a whimsical way to see how the cost of living has affected it. All prices are in US dollars.

The increase over 40 years has the gifts in 1984 at $20,023 and 2023 at $46,729. That is for the singular gifts. If we compound them as in question 4, then 2023 would have cost $201,972.

As a generality the price of the goods has decreased in growth while the services have increased. The four gifts in the entertainment industry have the highest increases - these include the Ladies dancing, Lords leaping, Pipers piping and Drummers drumming. They are obviously for hiring these people not owning them.

The cheapest gift in 2023 - the maids milking. At minimal wage these would cost just $58. At the top of the list are the leaping Lords who would set you back $14,539. Second highest is actually the swans who cost $13,125.
6. Geese a-laying

There is controversy over claims that the song was written to secretly pass on important Christian ideals in a code during times of persecution. This was then disputed as they wouldn't have used the word 'Christmas' in it if Christianity was outlawed.

Then the answer to that was that it was not about all Christian persecution but that of the Catholics specifically from the reign of Queen Elizabeth In 1558 to King George IV in 1829 when it was illegal to practise the faith. If one takes it as this analogy it refers to:

The Partridge in the Pear Tree: Jesus Christ.
2 Turtle Doves: Old and New Testaments.
3 French hens: Theological virtues, Faith, Hope and Charity,
4 Calling Birds: Four gospels.
5 Gold Rings: First five books of the Old Testament.
6 Geese A-laying: Six days of creation.
7 Swans A-swimming: Gifts of the Holy Spirit, seven sacraments.
8 Maids A-milking: Eight beatitudes.
9 Ladies Dancing: Nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
10 Lords A-leaping: Ten Commandments.
11 Pipers Piping: Eleven faithful apostles.
12 Drummers Drumming: Points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed.
7. Swans a-swimming

The twelve days also celebrate a saints feast day or other event. These can change around the world but a list of common days include the following:

Day 1 (25th) is Christmas Day itself obviously celebrating the birth of Jesus.

Day 2 (26th) is St Stephen's Day, also known as Boxing Day in the Commonwealth countries. Stephen was the first Christian martyr, stoned to death in 34 AD.

He was immortalised in the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas" when the Bohemian King went out 'on the feast of Stephen' to give food and supplies to a poor man in the snow outside.
The carol is based on a true story and led to St Stephens Day being a day of charity and helping those in need. In Tudor England the charity boxes were opened on this day and given to the poor.

Day 3 (27th) is St John the Apostle.
8. Maids a-milking

Day 4 (28th) is known as the Feast of the Holy Innocents or Childermas. This was a day of remembrance for all the children murdered by King Herod while he tried to kill Jesus. In times past it was a 'role reversal' day.

On the home front children were often punished (usually whipped) at the beginning of the day as a reminder to them of the suffering of those children but were then in charge of the house and the adults for the rest of the day. At school the students would be put in charge of their masters for the day.

Perhaps the most surprising custom was what were known as the 'Boy Bishops'. In the English cathedrals a boy was chosen from either the church or monastery school and elected to become a Bishop. This actually began on the 6th of December but lasted until the 28th.

This boy acted as a full bishop, they were given the robes, gave the sermon and led the church service. They basically had the authority to perform any of their duties except the Mass itself. This practise continued until outlawed in 1552.
9. Ladies dancing

Day 5 (29th) is the Feast of St Thomas Becket who was murdered in his Cathedral in Canterbury in 1170.

Day 6 (30th) St Egwin of Worcester. Benedictine monk and the third Bishop of Worcester.

Day 7 (31st) Pope Sylvester I, a fourth century pope, is traditionally celebrated on this day.

Day 8 (1st): Solemnity of Mary, Mother of Christ whom she had circumcised on the eighth day.

Day 9 (2nd) St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, two fourth century Christians

Day 10 (3rd) Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. This is when he was officially named in the Jewish Temple.

Day 11 (4th) St. Elizabeth Ann Seton a Catholic nun, the first American saint.

Day 12 (5th) St. John Neumann who was the first Bishop in America and St Simeon Stylites the Elder.
10. Lords a-leaping

The twelfth day of Christmas is also known as Twelfth Night and was a huge celebration in the mid-nineteenth century in England. It was another night of role reversal where the rich served the servants.

At the beginning of the evening a Twelfth Night cake was eaten. This was a cake full of spices, fruit and nuts. The baker placed a small pea or bean within it and whoever found it was made Lord or Lady of Misrule for the rest of the night.

They were dressed like a royal and were in charge of all of the entertainment and would stage plays and games for the evening and generally encourage people to have fun and enjoy the night.

It was also traditional to have people playing different sorts of pipes throughout the evening.
11. Pipers piping

Twelfth Night was also an evening to go wassailing. This tradition was handed down from the Anglo-Saxons where 'waes hael' meant 'good health'. There are two different types of wassailing.

The first is performed either at home with family and friends or travelling from door to door. The wassail was made of mulled ale, apples, eggs, cloves, sugar and other spices and was served in special wassail bowls.

People would drink from the bowl and wish each other good health for the coming year. This was performed on both New Year's Eve and Twelfth Night except for the rich who would often partake on all 12 evenings.

The second is a tradition that is still practised today in Britain. It takes place in fruit orchards, particularly those with apples and pears. Participants sing and dance and drink throughout the orchard with the intention of warding off bad spirits and waking the trees up to produce a good crop. The wassail is also often poured onto their roots.
12. Drummers drumming

Twelfth Night is also called Epiphany Eve. Although many people have already set their full Nativity Scene up before Christmas, in some countries it is traditional not to add the Wise Men until this evening ready to celebrate the Epiphany the next day.

After the Epiphany Church Services it was traditional to eat roast lamb and an Epiphany Tart which was a huge jam tart in the shape of a star to symbolise the star that the Wise Men followed.

It's also now traditional to take Christmas decorations down after the Twelfth Day. In Elizabethan times they used to leave them up until the 2nd of February when Candlemas was celebrated.
Source: Author Midget40

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