- Mintage Limit - 1500
- Each coin in set is struck from 25g of pure silver
- Coin in capsule+with Certificate of Authenticity + Presentation Case
One of the world’s most beloved Christmas carols, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” famously enumerates a series of increasingly grandiose gifts given on each of the twelve days of Christmas, ultimately leaving singers with 364-gifts from a “true love.” A ‘cumulative’ song, each verse is built on top of the previous verses. It has been one of the most popular and oft-recorded Christmas songs in America and Europe throughout the past century. “The Twelve Days of Christmas” celebrates the period of merrymaking from the day after Christmas, December 26, to the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, or, the Twelfth Day. Although the specific origins of the song are not known, it possibly began as a Twelfth Night ‘memory-and-forfeits’ game, in which a leader recited a verse; each of the players repeated the verse; the leader added another verse, and so on, until one of the players made a mistake, with the player who erred paying an obligatory penalty, such as offering up a kiss or a sweet. This interpretation is substantiated within the earliest known printed version of the song in the children’s book “Mirth without Mischief” (c.1780). The song apparently is older than the printed version, though it is not known how much older. While the song is considered an English carol, textual evidence indicates that the song was not English in origin, but rather, French. Three French versions of the song are known. James O. Halliwell reportedly first performed the song professionally in 1842. In the early 20th century, Frederic Austin wrote an arrangement that has since become standard. The copyright to that arrangement was registered in 1909, which is still active and owned by Novello & Co. Limited. A bit of modern folklore claims that the song’s lyrics were written as a ‘catechism song’ to help young Catholics learn their faith at a time when practicing Catholicism was discouraged in England (1558 until 1829). However, there is no substantive evidence supporting this or similar claims, which in spite of a lack of historical data to support it, continues to proliferate since the advent of the Internet. Significantly, scholars point out that there exist no obvious relationships between the religious tenets to be memorized and the symbols used to represent them, and, there exists a great deal of variation in the list of tenets supposedly symbolized by the song. Interestingly, faith-based explanations of the song can be traced only as far back as the 1990s. Several scholars have hypothesized that the song may have been confused with, or borrows from, the format of another song, “A New Dial,” also known as “In Those Twelve Days.” Dating to at least 1625, “A New Dial” assigns religious meanings to each of the 12-days of Christmas, but not for the purpose of teaching a catechism. In a manner somewhat similar to the ‘memory-and-forfeits’ performance of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” “A New Dial” was recited in a question-and-answer format. And yet, around the world, ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ is understood by most as a joyful song celebrating the Christmas season with imagery of gifts, dancing and music. In that regard, the song’s likely origins in rural France take on greater significance when considering the fantastical nature of the gifts featured. Indeed, though historically enjoyed by all classes or segments of society, the carol may well have begun among poorer, agriculturally dependent classes of French society unable to afford expensive, ‘store-bought’ gifts, with the tradition of exchanging gifts during Christmastime dating back at least as far as the 4th century. Coupled with the song’s purported use as a ‘memory-and-forfeits’ game (strongly supported by historical evidence via diaries and memoirs), the gifts of birds and of humans – increasingly more active and merry with each verse – take on enhanced meaning as representing extraordinary wealth and generosity out-of-reach for most of the populace. Considering European cultural traditions from medieval times through to the 19th century, the commonplace nature of the song’s gifts offer modern eyes a unique window into the past, as each gift can be traced to centuries-old symbols of fertility or wealth. And so, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” remains to this day a beloved Christmastime classic – a delightful celebration of love and merriment shared among family and friends.