The REAL Cost of the 12 Days of Christmas (number seven will ASTOUND you!)

The song is terrible.  It's just the worst.  But it's always a source of fun discussion.

Just how much did the True Love in the 12 Days of Christmas shell out to woo his/her Intended?  For school today, I had the kids find out.  Here's what they came up with.

Partridge in a pear tree:

Total number of partridges over the 12 days of Christmas: 12

Total number of trees: 12

Partridges: $43.68 (not including shipping) 

Pear Trees: $443.88

Two Turtle Doves:

Total number of turtle doves over the 12 days of Christmas: 22*

Assuming each day the giver is presenting a mated pair of turtle doves: $6,600

Assuming each day the giver is presenting two males: $6,820

Assuming each day the giver is presenting two females: $6,820

*still no shipping

Three French Hens:

Here is a list of chicken breeds native to France.  For the sake of this experiment, we will run costs for two of the more common types- the Crevecoeur and the Maran.  Specifically the Copper Maran because let's face it, if someone is going to be this extra in their gift giving, they'd spring for the Copper Marans.

Total number of hens over the 12 days of Christmas: 30

30 sexed Crevecoeurs: $205.20

30 sexed Copper Marans: $205.20

Four Calling Birds:

Ever wondered what a "calling bird" is?  We did.  Short answer?  It's a blackbird.  Longer answer?  Read this.

Finding a place to source 36 wild birds is problematic, because you'd need wildlife rehab licenses and whatnot.  The only place I found blackbirds for sale (I used "starlings") was here.  At $100 per chick, you're looking at $3,600.  There's no other place we could source wild birds, so we'll just have to use that number.

36 Starlings: $3,600

Five Gold Rings:

Who doesn't love a nice ring?  And when you multiply it over the eight times it occurs, you get yourself 40 golden rings.

Clearly, the cost of the ring would vary wildly based on style, but a nice, basic gold ring can be found here for $259.99

40 gold rings: $10,399.60

Six Geese A Laying:

Again, another gift that had us scratching our heads.  Good luck finding laying geese for sale.  It's hard enough finding hatcheries that sold goslings, let alone all female goslings, let alone mature, laying female geese.  The best we could do was find a hatchery that sold sexed goslings and just do what we could.  Keep in mind, an adult, laying bird is MUCH pricier than a baby.

42 French Toulouse (keeping with the French theme) goslings: $609

Again, laying hens would be MUCH MUCH costlier.  But alas, the world we live in does not provide easy access to the purchasing of 42 adult female geese.

Seven Swans A Swimming:

This one is mind boggling.  Either the dude in the song had a serious pet hoarding problem, a huge breeding stock of exotic birds, or verrrrrry deep pockets.

Over the course of the 12 days of Christmas, the gift recipient would receive 42 swans.

42 swans: (we REALLY did some bargain hunting on this one, and the absolute cheapest swan per bird we could find was $750/per bird.  I don't know.  Maybe we would be grateful for our savvy shopping, maybe he would be like, "GO BIG OR GO HOME".  Don't know.)  $31,500

Eight Maids A Milking:

When we start dealing with humans, the calculations get trickier.  For example, do the eight maids a milking come with their own cows?  Does the gift recipient have to provide the cows?  Are the maids even milking cows at all?  Are they perhaps milking goats instead?  How does one being to calculate the monetary value of such a gift?

If takes a seasoned milk maid 10-15 minutes to milk a cow.  Cows need to be milked 2-3 times per day.  For the ease of calculations, we'll say 30 minutes of milking per maid over the course of five days.

At minimum wage, here in the state of Connecticut, year of our Lord 2021, minimum wage is $12/hour.

So eight maids, working 1/2 hour a day for 5 days gives us 20 total labor hours.  At $12/hour, that comes to $240 in milk money.

Nine Ladies Dancing:

So many choices here!  To keep things PG, we just looked up "how much does it cost to hire a belly dancer" and found the range is from $250-$400 for a 20 minute show.  Not wanting to dig any deeper into the world of private dancers, we'll just use that number.

Nine Belly Dancers hired for a 20 minute show 4 times over the remaining days of gift giving (using the midpoint of $325, we have 9 dancers x $325 x 4 days of booking): $11,700

Ten Lords A Leaping:

Another gift that is rendered odd to us thanks to the passage of time.  According to this article, lords a leaping refer to a specific type of dancer known as a Morris Dancer.  More on Morris Dancing is here.

Cool cultural archeology lesson bro, but how do we calculate the cost of the gift? In the spirit of gender equality, we're going to just use the same rates as the lady belly dancers.

Ten male belly dancers hired for a 20 minute show over the remaining 3 days of gift giving: $9,750

Eleven Pipers Piping:

Ugh.  I hate the people ones.  At least this one we can use a professional bag piper and not have to delve into ancient lore.  This website (though in pounds, so we had to convert to dollars) says it's about $274/hour to hire a professional bagpiper.

Eleven pipers giving an hour performance for two consecutive days is: $6,028

Twelve Drummers Drumming:

Arguably the loudest of all gifts (though anyone who has been around chickens and geese knows they're a close second), we were able to find gig drummers who run about $205/hour.

Twelve drummers giving an hour long performance one time: $2,460

Adding everything together gives us a grand total of between: $83,579.36- $83,799.36

Of course, this doesn't take into account things like shipping rates, or discounts for multiple day bookings or wildlife rehab licencing and whatnot.  But it DOES accurately depict the VOLUME of gifts, that is to say, not just one day of a partridge in a pear tree, but rather a partridge and a pear tree given every day over the entire 12 days of Christmas.  That's an important distinction that places like the PNC Christmas Price Index doesn't make.


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