Patience Brewster's Twelve Days of Christmas Ornaments

by dustytoes

The twelve days of Christmas are presented as ornaments for the tree in the most whimsical and unique way, by artist Patience Brewster.

I first discovered the art of Patience Brewster when I stumbled across a page in a magazine that held the most adorable set of reindeer figurines. Since then I have discovered more about this artist and the prolific collection of characters and Christmas decorations that she inspires. The twelve days of Christmas are represented in her own imaginative way and condensed into a single ornament for each day.

Along with a peek at the decorations, I've included a little about the background of the song.

Patience Brewster's Designs

Read a little background about the artist.

Patience Brewster is a descendant of travelers on the Mayflower.  She grew up in Plymouth, Massachusetts and her inspiration comes from the nature that surrounded her while growing up in that area.

Her work can be purchased on cards, in books, as figurines, pendants, journals and probably a lot more items.  Her whimsical artwork of little fairies and elves are as cute as her flying fish and chubby pig.

The Second Day of Christmas, Two Turtle Doves

This whimsical rendition actually includes a turtle.
Patience Brewster Krinkles 2 Turtle Doves 12 Days Christmas Ornament

Does the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" have an alternate meaning?

This is a bit of a quiz, with info presented further down this page.

Five Gold (or Golden) Rings

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me.
Patience Brewster Krinkles - 5 Golden Rings Orn (08-30343)

A Song Usually Sung on Twelfth Night, or January 5th.

A game was made out of remembering the order of the gifts.

As a kid I always loved the Twelve Days of Christmas song.  It was fun to sing it with the family around and see how everyone would laugh as some of us forgot who, or what, it was that represented the number.  Apparently this is how the song originated too.

These are the likely truths related to this song.

  • It is in reference to the twelve days between Christmas day, the 25th of December, and the Epiphany, January 6th.
  • It likely began as a "Twelfth Night" (celebrated January 5th) singing game.  The verses were sung with each added in order, until someone forgot the words and had to do some sort of penance (in a fun way, like giving someone a kiss).

Need help remembering the words? If you can't remember the characters, or gifts mentioned, watch the video (on the right) below.  Begin it at around 6:40 to see the entire countdown from the twelfth day.

Instrumental Rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas

Get in the holiday spirit with some beautiful music set to images of holiday decorations.

How Many Drummers Are Drumming?

Here is an example of the different way the song can be sung.

The ornament with the drummers features nine of them, but some songs have the drummers at number twelve.

It seems that there are still many ways to interpret, and sing, this song.

Nine Drummers Drumming, Christmas Tree Ornament

All nine, golden, star-shaped drummers are beating on one drum.
Patience Brewster Krinkles - 9 Drummers Orn (08-30347)

History and Origin of a Song That Has Become a Christmas Tradition

Actually, very little is really known about this song, but it's probably not what you think.

If you believe what some Christians do about the song's origin, then "my true love" represents God, and the partridge is Jesus, with more biblical references as the song goes on.  Some say that the song was created as a type of memory verse for Catholics who, during a time period, were persecuted in England.

However, it seems there are no historical facts to support this and has listed some good arguments against it's truthfulness.  Here is a brief summary of what the Snopes page reveals. 

  • First of all, the song originated in France, and not England.  This is true according to the items mentioned in the song.
  • The references to Christianity that the song is said to be "hiding" would not need to be hidden at all since all of Christianity, and not just Catholics believed in these things.
  • There is a variation in the supposed meanings of the numbers, such as the three French hens which have been said to represent the Holy Trinity, or the gifts of the Magi, or the three virtues of "faith, hope, and love".  Because of the vagueness in meanings, it is unlikely that this would be something passed down as a memory verse for hundreds of years.  It is not specific enough to convey and preserve doctrine.
  • And if memorization to continue religion was the goal, why would this song be written for the time-limiting, Christmas season?

Three French Hens

Now you know what a French hen looks like. Glitter and high heels, who knew?
Patience Brewster Three French Hens Ornament

Four Calling Birds

On the fourth day, more birds. The kind that dress in big shoes and top coats!
Krinkles 12 Days Of Christmas Four Calling Birds Ornament

Variations in The Song

Have you ever sung the "collie birds" or "bells ringing" versions?

ring neck birdAccording to Wikipedia, there were some very unusual gifts given.  One version was sung as "10 cocks a crowing", "9 bears a beating", "8 hounds a running" and "7 squabs a swimming".  Sounds as if some sort of hunter made up that version!

The "calling birds" began as "collie birds" and the gold, or golden, rings are thought to have originally made reference to ring-necked birds and not to actual pieces of jewelry.

In some instances the order of the gifts is changed as well.  The upper numbers seem to get confused in some versions, which is understandable in my view.  It seems that the "drummers drumming" can be switched around from twelfth, to ninth, or tenth place. 

(Chinese golden pheasant pictured)


Updated: 10/31/2014, dustytoes
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Any thoughts about the song or ornaments?

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JoHarrington on 11/27/2012

These are absolutely gorgeous!

dustytoes on 11/05/2012

Thanks for the comments everyone. I think these are very unique too.

HollieT on 11/05/2012

I've never heard of Patience Brewster Christmas ornaments, but they're absolutely lovely! So unusual.

sheilamarie on 09/22/2012

What hilarious ornaments! I love them! Thanks for the background information on the song, too!

katiem2 on 09/22/2012

Very nice ornaments. I just might have to add a few new ornaments this year. Thanks for the great preview. :)K

BrendaReeves on 09/22/2012

These are so cute. I'm going to check them out on Amazon.

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