"The Twelve Days of Christmas" (1979)

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" is a traditional and lengthy English Christmas carol. The song is based on the premise that the singer receives one gift per day from his or her "true love" over the 12 days immediately following Christmas Day. Each verse repeats all of the previous gifts listed; thus, one could say that the singer receives 364 gifts total -- or one a day until next Christmas, when the process begins all over again. The Muppets have recorded five versions of the song, each lasting well over four minutes.

The Muppets and John Denver


The Muppets and John Denver performed "The Twelve Days of Christmas" as the opening to the 1979 special John Denver & the Muppets: A Christmas Together. A different version was recorded for the Christmas Together album.

The singers on the album version are:

John Denver -- "A partridge in a pear tree"
Fozzie Bear -- "Two turtle doves"
Gonzo -- "Three French hens"
Robin the Frog -- "Four calling birds"
Miss Piggy -- "Five gold rings"
Scooter -- "Six geese a-laying"
Lew Zealand -- "Seven swans a-swimming"
Rowlf the Dog -- "Eight maids a-milking"
Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker - "Nine ladies dancing"
Statler and Waldorf -- "Ten lords a-leaping"
Beauregard -- "Eleven pipers piping"
Kermit -- "Twelve drummers drumming"

The verse distribution for the televised version is slightly different:

John Denver / all -- "A partridge in a pear tree"
Kermit -- "Two turtle doves"
Gonzo -- "Three French hens"
Robin the Frog -- "Four calling birds"
Miss Piggy -- "Five gold rings"
Scooter -- "Six geese a-laying"
Fozzie Bear -- "Seven swans a-swimming"
Rowlf the Dog -- "Eight maids a-milking"
Janice - "Nine ladies dancing"
Statler and Waldorf -- "Ten lords a-leaping"
Floyd Pepper -- "Eleven pipers piping"
Animal -- "Twelve drummers drumming"

Both versions are particularly memorable for Miss Piggy belting "Five... gold.... rings!", and following it in the later choruses with "ba-dum-bum-bum (which the entire cast delivers on the final verse). Additionally, in both versions, each Muppet joins in on John's "partridge in a pear tree" once they have joined the song.

Sesame Street


The Sesame Street Muppets recorded a version of the song for the 1975 album Merry Christmas from Sesame Street. In this version, the lyrics were adjusted to fit the characters singing.

Cookie Monster -- "One delicious cookie"
Hard Head Henry Harris -- "Two baby frogs"
Prairie Dawn -- "Three footballs"
Grover -- "Four wooly bears"
Bert -- "Five argyle socks"
Ernie -- "Six rubber duckies"
Oscar -- "Seven rusty trashcans"
Count von Count -- "Eight counts a' counting"
Big Bird -- "Nine pounds of birdseed"
Smart Tina -- "Ten wind-up rabbits"
Herry -- "Eleven broken buildings"
Mr. Snuffleupagus -- "Twelve.... I can't remember!"

When the album was re-released in 1995 as A Sesame Street Christmas, some songs were re-edited; characters who no longer appeared on the show were replaced with new characters. Hard Head Henry Harris and Smart Tina were replaced in this song by Elmo and Telly:

Elmo -- "Two baby frogs"
Telly -- "Ten triangles"

Plus, Mr. Snuffleupagus' verse was rerecorded by Martin P. Robinson, instead of the original performer Jerry Nelson.

A different version of the song was recorded in 1984 for Sesame Street Christmas Sing-Along, using the traditional lyrics -- except for Oscar the Grouch, who turns "four calling birds" into "four mockingbirds". Sound effects can be heard representing the various elements, including a tweeting partridge, a mooing cow being milked, and the tapping of nine ladies dancing. The characters also make various asides -- especially Oscar, who grouses at the end that the song is finally over.

Cast -- "A partridge in a pear tree"
Bert -- "Two turtle doves"
Olivia -- "Three French hens"
Oscar -- "Four mockingbirds"
Ernie -- "Five golden rings"
Susan -- "Six geese a-laying"
Gordon -- "Seven swans a-swimming"
Grover -- "Eight maids a-milking"
Bob -- "Nine ladies dancing"
Olivia -- "Ten lords a-leaping"
Big Bird -- "Eleven pipers piping"
Cookie Monster -- "Twelve drummers drumming"

In Elmo's Christmas Countdown, during Brad Paisley and Grover's performance of "Jingle Bells", they sing "Five golden rings" during the instrumental.

Elmo performed his own monster-filled version of the song in the book, Elmo's 12 Days of Christmas.

In Keep Christmas with You, at a Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert, Count Von Count narrated the traditional lyrics, with additional commentary, during a special arrangement by organist Richard Elliot. (YouTube)


The song was used in an HBO promo for the special Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas. (YouTube)

Elmo -- "An Elmo in a Big Bird tree"
Two-Headed Monster -- "Two headed monster"
Oscar the Grouch -- "Three wet socks"
Grover -- "Four hula-hoops"
Cookie Monster -- "Five cookies"
Ernie -- "Six rubber duckies"
Abby Cadabby -- "Seven flying pumpkins"
Rosita -- "Ocho mariposas" (eight butterflies)
Big Bird -- "Nine birdseed milkshakes"
Telly Monster -- "Ten tinkly triangles"
Bert -- "Eleven bowls of oatmeal"
Count von Count -- "Twelve bats a-flapping"


In December 2018, Sesame Street's YouTube Channel posted a cookie-themed version of the song titled the "12 Days of Christmas Cookies," which features Cookie Monster singing about the treats each of his friends gave him. The backing track is repurposed from a Disney karaoke track of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." (YouTube)

Cookie Monster's Mommy -- "A chocolate-chippy cookie"
Abby Cadabby -- "Two alphabet letters"
Baby Bear -- "Three gingerbread men"
Ovejita -- "Four cookie candy canes"
Elmo -- "Five Christmas trees"
Mr. Johnson -- "Six ladyfingers"
Rosita -- "Seven sugar wafers"
Count von Count -- "Eight confetti sprinkles"
Big Bird -- "Nine birdseed cookies"
Forgetful Jones -- "Ten bonbons"
A Martian -- "Eleven chocolate frosting"
Santa Claus -- "Twelve snowman cookies"

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon


"The Twelve Days of Christmas" (2009)


The Muppets appeared on the December 23, 2009 episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon where they performed the song with Jimmy Fallon, while The Roots, the show's house band, performed the music. The version was similar to the one performed with John Denver, with a couple differences in the singers and with Fozzie comically stuggling to remember his line and cue. The singers for this version were:

Jimmy Fallon / all -- "A partridge in a pear tree"
Kermit -- "Two turtle doves"
Gonzo -- "Three French hens"
Robin the Frog -- "Four calling birds"
Miss Piggy -- "Five gold rings"
Scooter -- "Six geese a-laying"
Fozzie Bear -- "Seven swans a-swimming"
Rowlf -- "Eight maids a-milking"
Pepe - "Nine ladies dancing"
Sam the Eagle -- "Ten lords a-leaping"
Rizzo -- "Eleven pipers piping"
Animal -- "Twelve drummers drumming"


Muppet Babies

The book Jim Henson's Muppet Babies' Christmas Book features a storybook adaptation of the lyrics illustrated by Tom Brannon. Baby Kermit presents Baby Piggy with the 12 days of Christmas gifts.

The Muppet Show Comic Book

The closing number for the "Winter" issue of The Muppet Show Comic Book: The Four Seasons is a variation of the song.


  • In the "Christmas Reindeer" sketch performed on The Ed Sullivan Show, one reindeer lists off some of the statistics of toys they are delivering. As he names the various numerical values, he and the others jokingly launch into the song.
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