AUSTIN (KXAN) — You hear it every year: “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” the perennial holiday classic about someone giving 12 gifts to their paramour that they probably don’t know what to do with.
Who needs 10 lords a-leaping?
If you’re unfamiliar, the tune starts with the phrase: “On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me” and builds, adding more and more items — 364 all together.
As part of its annual tradition, PNC Bank has released its Christmas Price Index of how much the 12 Days of Christmas gifts would cost adjusted for today’s economy. The 2020 numbers also account for the COVID-19 pandemic, noting the countless live performances and gatherings that have been cancelled since earlier this year.
Here’s the 2020 list:
- A Partridge in a Pear Tree — Cost: $210.18. The cost has not changed since last year.
- Two Turtle Doves — Cost: $450. The costs of these love birds increased more than any other item on the list, up 50% from 2019.
- Three French Hens — Cost: $210. Up 15% from last year.
- Four Calling Birds — Cost: $599.96. Price unchanged, but why so many birds?
- Five Gold Rings — Cost: $945. The price of gold rose throughout the pandemic, PNC says, and five rings would cost $120 more than 2019.
- Six Geese-A-Laying — Cost: $570. An increase of 35% over last year. MORE birds?
- Seven Swans-A-Swimming — Cost: $13,125. Yikes! These birds rank as the most expensive gift on the list, though it remains unchanged over last year.
- Eight Maids-A-Milking — Cost: $58. The same as last year as the federal minimum wage hasn’t changed. Still seems unfair to the maids, who likely had to juggle social distancing and milking while masked.
- Nine Ladies Dancing — Cost: N/A. COVID-19 has wrecked the bar and nightclub industry, leaving most ladies to dancing in their own living rooms.
- Ten Lords A-Leaping — Cost: N/A. See above. The only leaping the lords did this year was from the couch to the bathroom.
- Eleven Pipers Piping — Cost: N/A. Live music venues continue to see gigantic losses in 2020. Hopefully these Eleven Pipers have been practicing piping during the pandemic.
- Twelve Drummers Drumming — Cost: N/A. Venues and entertainers, drum on. We’re all sending you Christmas wishes.
Total cost: $16,168.14.
That’s down 58.5% from 2019 ($38,993). The least expensive year recorded was 1995.
PNC also calculates how much it would cost if you bought each of the items every time they’re repeated in the song. That would put you back $105,561.80.
The PNC annual calculation began 37 years ago by its predecessor, Provident National Bank in Philadelphia. The company says the list remains one of its most popular economic reports.
The Tax Foundation, a leading independent tax policy nonprofit, also calculated the taxes you’d pay on the Christmas gifts, ranking 12 Drummers Drumming as the ones with the biggest tax implications.
Where does the song come from?
While it’s not agreed upon where the song came from, the 1780 British children’s book “Mirth Without Mischief” is the first known publication of the song. Here, the song was a memory game, where readers challenged each other to recall the items as the numbers increased.
The melody most people are familiar with was created in 1909 by composer Frederic Austin.