12 Days of Christmas as Art

As the festive season draws closer, we thought we’d round up the year with an iconic carol — The Twelve Days of Christmas. The carol finds its roots as an eighteenth century rhyme or chant first, and was only set to the tune we know today in 1909.

As well known as the carol is, its lyrics often get jumbled around as the song’s tempo is upbeat and fast-paced. In order to help everyone remember the order in which the gifts are given, we thought we’d use artworks as visual cues. We’ve paired up every line from the carol with an artwork — just keep scrolling for them all.

1 A Chukar Partridge, Freer|Sackler, Smithsonian Institution
2 Doves, Jacob Epstein, Tate
3 Hens and Chicks with Rooster, Leroy Person, American Folk Art Museum
4 Serinette (Bird Organ), Museum of Fine Arts Boston
5 Gold triple-finger ring, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
6 Incense Burner, Victoria & Albert Museum
7 Swan from Bencao tupu, Zhou Hu and Zhou Xi, Wellcome Collection
8 Advertisement signboard for Milkmaid condensed milk, National Museum of Singapore
9 Dancing Celestial Female (Apsaras), Los Angeles County Museum of Art
10 Relief depicting Ashurbanipal hunting a lion, British Museum
11 Opium Pipe, Asian Civilisations Museum
12 Vodou boula drum, British Museum