Dec22

Twelve Days of Christmas “Four Calling Birds”

Posted by Kelly Kirkham

We’re getting closer and closer to the big day. Follow along with our interpretations of The Twelve Days of Christmas as we count down to Santa’s arrival. In our last post we covered Miss Piggy and her jubilant ‘Five Gold Rings’ and today we examine the fourth day with ‘Four Calling Birds.’

As I was researching a little to learn more about the calling birds that the true love brought as a gift, I found many references that suggested the ‘calling birds’ were not always so. In earlier versions of The Twelve Days of Christmas, the fourth gift of fowl was referred to as ‘Colly’ or ‘Collie’ birds. Colly signifies any bird that is black, such as blackbirds, crows, rooks and ravens.

Another website discussed a theory that all twelve gifts are actually birds known by nicknames from long ago, for example, Lords leaping were cuckoos, Drummers drumming were the snipe, Maids milking were Magpies and so on. This is, of course, all speculative but very interesting nevertheless.

Others claim that the gift once included four canary birds, four mockingbirds and other varieties of our feathered friends – but mainly just a lot of birds. The true love must have had quite the hatchery to have a total of 364 birds ready to be gifted (if we are to believe the gifts were all birds.) Just think of all the feathers!

I’m not sure that it particularly matters what the gifts really were in origin. Frank Sinatra’s version says that on the fourth day he received ‘four mission lights’ (and if anyone knows what in the world a mission light is please Tweet it to me @Midphase)!

In my mind, the importance of the English carol is shown through the dozens (if not hundreds) of versions that have allowed the holiday song to live on through the ages. Since first published in 1780, ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ has lived on through countless remakes. Even if they don’t use the original lyrics, the song remains the same in essence. From Twisted Sister to Jeff Foxworthy, the holiday spirit prevails through each of the gifts, winged or not.

Here are a few versions to consider as your new favorite carol:

Jeff Foxworthy’s “Twelve Days of Redneck Christmas”

Jeff Foxworthy is known for his ‘Redneck comedy’ but has also done work as a voice for animated works and television shows. Although not glamourous, Foxworthy’s work is certainly funny (although I’m not sure if Fredric Austin, the English composer responsible for the musical arrangement, would agree).

Bob and Doug sing “Twelve Days of Christmas”

Bob and Doug originated as hosts for “Great White North” on a Canadian sketch comedy show call “Second City Television” of “SCTV.” The show was picked up by CBS in 1980 where the brothers, played by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, continued to showcase their antics until 1984. They are the perfect pair if you are looking for a beer…… in a tree.

Twisted Sister “Heavy Metal Christmas”

This heavy metal band from the 1980s conquered New York and set out to take over the Twelve Days of Christmas too. From leather jackets to tattoos, this somewhat outdated band pays tribute as the next band in line to sing their part in the carol.

Twin Peaks 12 Days of Christmas Song

The television serial drama from the early 1990’s has a little something special to add to the holidays. Twin Peaks was created by Mark Frost and David Lynch and lasted two seasons but quickly gained a cult fan base. So for all Twin Peaks fan’s, here is their version of a creepy twelve days.

Bob Rivers “Twelve Pains of Christmas”

Bob Rivers’ is a rock-n-roll radio personality in the Pacific Northwest. We all feel for him as he demonstrates each of the troublesome aspects that the holiday season brings to us. His album Twisted Christmas was certified as Gold by the Recording Industry of America in 1988.

12 Days of Minecraft

Minecraft has taken the world by storm and it’s only natural that Christmas is not an exception. Creepers, sheep, and miners added up to create the best Minecraft inspired Christmas carol ever.

And for the more traditional readers out there, here is Christmas legend Perry Como singing the original ‘Twelve Days of Christmas”:

 

No matter how you sing it or what your preferred gifts happen to be, this timeless carol still brings the holiday season to listeners every year.  Happy fourth day of Christmas from Midphase.com.

Have a favorite version of an old-fashioned Christmas carol? Share it with us on Twitter @Midphase

 

 

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