Ranking The Twelve Days of Christmas

“Twelve Days of Christmas” is a holiday classic that you can’t help but hear at least once a season. It’s a song that every knows most of the words to, even if you don’t really think about what the lyrics are saying. All we know is it’s a little bit much for Christmas. Even if you really love somebody, celebrating for twelve days and giving them a bunch of random nonsense is a little over the top. Not all the gifts are bad, of course, but some are definitely better than others.

That gave us the bright idea to boldly go where no one’s gone before and actually rank the twelve days of Christmas. This is totally based on gift quality and not actual days, because we’re pretty sure after a week or so we’d be totally over this crap—or at the very least the sheer number of birds there are to deal with.  Seriously, if you don’t like birds, turn back now.

12. Four Calling Birds

What the hell is a “calling bird”? Is that a bird that calls out to you? Are the calls particularly shrill or loud? Do they go straight through to voicemail? All jokes aside, these guys sound kind of annoying, like the birds you hear outside of your window every morning at sunrise. The idea sounds nice, but it mostly just pisses you off because you’re not a bird and you don’t need to wake up at 5 a.m.

11. Three French Hens

Hens are okay—maybe we’ll get some eggs outta this deal. But what’s the significance of the hens being French? Are these particularly cowardly hens? That’s an overused military-related joke about the French getting molliwopped by the Nazis during World War II, but hey, almost every other country in Europe did too. The joke is bad but so is the prospect of being gifted three French hens. Pass.

10. Two Turtle Doves

This sounds sweet, and at least conjures up memories of Home Alone 2: Lost in New York when Kevin befriended the pigeon lady in Central Park. Maybe you can build a little nest for these two love birds to remind yourself how alone you are this holiday season. Oof. Maybe we should’ve ranked them lower.

9. Seven Swans A-Swimming

More birds? At least these ones are pretty and out there swimming on a lake where they belong. The seven swans only ranked this high because they’re presumably nice to look at. But swans are also aggressive as hell, so make sure you don’t feed them any bread to get ’em riled up.

8. Eleven Pipers Piping

Musicians, now we’re talking. They might be ranked a little higher if we knew precisely what a “pipe” was in this context. Or if “piping” referred to fanciful icing on some nice seasonal cakes—these guys might even crack the top five. But we can’t confirm any of that, so for now here they sit.

7. Twelve Drummers Drumming

This could get a bit annoying, but it’s probably nice ambient Christmas drumming that doesn’t get on your nerves until you’ve had too much mulled wine. Maybe just try to enjoy the synchrony and find a little beauty in the world, huh?

6. Eight Maids A-Milking

What exactly are we supposed to do with eight maids? It’s not clear. But we’re getting some fresh dairy out of this, which is a major upside. Sign us up.

5. Six Geese A-Laying

It’s really enough with the birds already. Just like the eight maids, we’re in it for the produce. Goose eggs are hard to come by, and to have this many geese a-laying simultaneously means everyone gets an omelet on Christmas. Or maybe one person gets a huge omelet. Bonus points if the eggs are golden—we want them NOW.

4. Ten Lords A-Leaping

Ten lords a-leaping—sounds an awful lot like basketball, no? And what more do I want to do on Christmas than ignore my family and watch big time basketball games? The answer is nothing.

3. Nine Lades Dancing

If ten lords a-leaping is basketball, this is definitely a ballet. So we ranked it third because #culture. Also it seems fitting because of the Rockettes or some other weird Christmas cultural reference. Watching athletic people perform feats of strength that double as beautiful art checks a lot of boxes.

2. Partridge in a Pear Tree

This just sounds pleasant. More produce and yet another bird, but you get something a little more from the partridge and pear tree combo. Maybe that’s why the cranks who wrote this song put it first so they could remind themselves of the imagery over and over again. A pear tree sounds downright angelic, and you don’t have to be Rick Ross to appreciate their delicious fruit.

1. Five Gold Rings

Sorry, were you expecting a different choice? You can call this materialistic or bourgeois or whatever you like, but there’s no chance we’re passing up five gold rings. Even the song emphasizes them! I like to think they served as inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien but that might be pushing it. Put ’em all together and you might even be able to forge a brass knuckle. A little aggressive for Christmas, but a holiday defined by material possessions will always be ruled by gold.