The 12 Days of Christmas

The Outlaw Carol That Wouldn’t Die


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About the Book

In the whole body of Christmas carols sung in English, among the most famous and beloved is a song universally called “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Although its association with the holiday remains unquestioned, the tune was originally a raucous drinking song with wildly different connotations. This book documents the unfamiliar and distant history of one of the world’s most well-known holiday songs, inextricably linked to the earliest celebrations of a festival suppressed by the Church itself.
The rowdy and mischievous tone of traditional Christmas has vanished, as have the songs that accompanied the festival of drinking, gambling, fighting, feasting and sex. Modern participants of Christmas may be either embarrassed or pleased to discover the scandalous roots of a beloved holiday classic.

About the Author(s)

Author of numerous acclaimed books and articles translated in over 20 languages, Harry Rand (Ph.D., Harvard University) served as senior curator, Cultural History, Smithsonian Institution. He lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Bibliographic Details

Harry Rand
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 246
Bibliographic Info: 36 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8991-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4766-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments   vi
Preface   1
Chapter 1   7
Chapter 2   15
Chapter 3   28
Chapter 4   37
Chapter 5   45
Chapter 6   51
Chapter 7   61
Chapter 8   67
Chapter 9   71
Chapter 10   91
Chapter 11   101
Chapter 12   109
Chapter 13   125
Chapter 14   136
Chapter 15   143
Chapter 16   150
Chapter 17   154
Chapter 18   170
Chapter 19   176
Chapter Notes   187
Works Cited   217
Index   221

Book Reviews & Awards

Finalist, Oddest Book Title of the Year—The Guardian’s Diagram Prize