Jimmy Fallon and The Muppets Sing "12 Days of Christmas"

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

For his Christmas episode, Jimmy Fallon sang “12 Days of Christmas” with the Muppets (and the Roots):

The “original” version featured John Denver and appeared on the album A Christmas Together and on the 1979 TV special A Christmas Together with John Denver and The Muppets — which does not appear to be available on DVD. Sigh.

I miss Jim Henson’s voice, of course, but I must admit that I like Pepe the Prawn and Rizzo the Rat.

The song has a number of variations:

It has been suggested by a number of sources over the years that the pear tree is in fact supposed to be perdrix, French for partridge and pronounced per-dree, and was simply copied down incorrectly when the oral version of the game was transcribed. The original line would have been: “A partridge, une perdrix.”

Some misinterpretations have crept into the English-language version over the years. The fourth day’s gift is often stated as four calling birds but originally was four colly birds, using another word for a blackbird.

The fifth day’s gift of gold rings refers not to jewellery but to ring-necked birds such as the ring-necked pheasant. When these errors are corrected, the pattern of the first seven gifts all being birds is restored. There is a version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” that is still sung in Sussex in which the four colly birds are replaced by canaries.

A minor variant includes the singing of “golden” rather than “gold” rings, to avoid having to stretch “gold” into two syllables (“go-old”).

Leave a Reply