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On the Eleventh Day of Christmas

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas - Eleven Pipers Piping

Dec 21, 2006 (updated 12/27/10)

At the big feasts held during the holiday celebrations the guests were often entertained by musicians, dancers, jugglers, etc. as well as singing and dancing themselves.

Bagpipes and their younger cousins the musette (an instrument similar to a bagpipe but the air for the sound came from bellows rather than blowing into the instrument) were popular instruments for dance music.

While we usually associate the bagpipe with Scotland, they were also a common instrument in France as well.

Bagpipe Music

Since Queen Elizabeth I was succeeded by the Stuart kings of Scotland, bagpipes and other aspects of Scots culture were common among the upper classes in England as were elements of French culture due to intermarriage of the English and French nobility.

The pipers referred to in the song would be the professional bagpipe musicians hired to entertain the guests with their music and provide music for dancing.

During the Tudor and Stuart Periods Christmas was a festive time of year for the upper classes and elaborate parties with feasting, music and dancing were common among these classes.

Eleven Pipers A-Piping

Eleven Pipers A-Piping

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Two Turtle Doves

Two Turtle Doves

Three French Hens

Three French Hens

Four Collie Birds

Four Collie Birds

Five Golden Rings

Five Golden Rings

Six Geese A-Laying

Six Geese A-Laying

Seven Swans

Seven Swans

Eight Maids A-Milking

Eight Maids A-Milking

Nine Ladies Dancing

Nine Ladies Dancing

Ten Lords A-Leaping

Ten Lords A-Leaping

Twelve Drummers Drumming

Twelve Drummers Drumming

Links to My Other Hubs on The Twelve Days of Christmas

  • The Twelve Days of Christmas
    The Twelve Days of Christmas is a popular carol that dates back to the Middle Ages. Being much older than other popular Christmas carols, this one appears to have evolved rather than being composed and...
  • Is it a Calling Bird or a Collie Bird in the Carol The Twelve Days of Christmas?
    December 26, 2010 New Hubber, Mary Jane Danley, saw my Hub On the First Day of Christmas and sent me a request asking if the gift on the Fourth Day of Christmas was originally four colley (or collie) birds...
  • On the First Day of Christmas
    Why a partridge in a pear tree? A partridge is not a small bird that can be easily placed in a cage in the kitchen. And the song pre-dates dwarf fruit trees so we are talking about a good sized tree which...
  • On the Second Day of Christmas
    Doves are a common symbol for love and peace, two Christmas themes. Turtle doves are a common species of dove found in France and England and they were often kept in cages as pets during the Middle Ages and...
  • On the Third Day of Christmas
    Dec 20, 2006 (updated 12/27/2010) The three French Hens probably refer to a variety of chicken from France. There are many varieties of chicken and in the period during which this carol developed there were...
  • On the Fourth Day of Christmas
    In the discussion dealing with the Partridge in a Pear Tree in the first stanza of the song it was pointed out that the gift of a partridge in a pear tree may have come about because of a mix-up between French...
  • On the Fifth Day of Christmas
    Dec 20, 2006 (updated 12/27/10) Unlike the four collie birds in the previous stanza who just had their name changed to a different, and non-existent, species of bird, the five rings in this stanza have, in...
  • On the Sixth Day of Christmas
    Geese were among the first birds to be domesticated. Our Neolithic ancestors discovered that, rather than spending days searching for animals to kill or nests to rob, it was easier to capture them live and...
  • On the Seventh Day of Christmas
    On the seventh day the lover sends seven swans. Throughout history swans have been associated with royalty and the swan is often used on royal symbols and other decorations. Swans are also found in myths...
  • On the Eighth Day of Christmas
    The eight maids a-milking addresses two of the major themes of fifteenth and sixteenth century English celebrations and parties during the Christmas holidays food and romance. What is a feast or...
  • On the Ninth Day of Christmas
    The nine ladies dancing evokes images of music and dancing which were a big part of the celebrations at this period of history in England. The term ladies probably refers to noble ladies as in a Lord and his...
  • On the Tenth Day of Christmas
    December 21, 2006 The ten lords a-leaping most likely refers to leaping dancers (called morris dancers) who performed leaping dances between courses at feasts. This type of wild and strenuous dancing...
  • On the Twelfth Day of Christmas
    With the twelfth day we have reached the end of the song and have arrived at the last day of Christmas known as Twelfth Night on which the partying and feasting continued. Twelfth Night is the night before...

Geographic Influences on The Twelve Days of Christmas Carol

© 2006 Chuck Nugent

Comments

justinskier on April 11, 2010:

Awesome I love christ, and all the songs!

avelina c. basa on December 12, 2008:

nice and good.educational for the children