“The first day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
(i.) The sprig of a juniper tree.
The second day of Christmas, &c.
(ii.) Two turtledoves (and No. 1).
The third day, &c.
(iii.) Three French hens (and Nos. 2 and 1).
The fourth day, &c.
(iv.) Four coloured birds (and Nos. 3 to 1).
The fifth day, &c.
(v.) Five gold rings (and Nos. 4 to 1).
The sixth day, &c.
(vi.) Six geese a-laying (and Nos. 5 to 1).
The seventh day, &c.
(vii.) Seven swans a-swimming (and Nos. 6 to 1).
The eighth day, &c.
(viii.) Eight hares a-running (and Nos. 7 to 1).
The ninth day, &c.
(ix.) Nine bulls a-roaring (and Nos. 8 to 1).
The tenth day, &c.
(x.) Ten men a-mowing (and Nos. 9 to 1).
The eleventh day, &c.
(xi.) Eleven dancers a-dancing (and Nos. 10 to 1).
The twelfth day, &c.
Twelve fiddlers a-fiddling.
Eleven dancers a-dancing.
Ten men a-mowing.
Nine bulls a-roaring.
Eight hares a-running.
Seven swans a-swimming.
Six geese a-laying.
Five gold rings.
Four coloured birds.
Three French hens.
And the sprig of a juniper tree.”
The last should be said all in one breath.
A version of the following lines was claimed by Mr. G. C. Boase in Notes and Queries (6th Series, xii. 484) as being a carol sung in East Cornwall at Christmastide. Miss E. H. Busk, however (Notes and Queries, 7th Series, i. 96), mentioned that she had heard an almost identical one sung in Wiltshire at harvest-time, and I myself showed (i. 315), that it was also sung by children in Dorset in their games.
- Conf. a variant in Halliwell’s Nursery Rhymes (ed. 1846), No. ccl.