## The Twelve Days of Christmas and why patterns are fun!

The Twelve Days of Christmas, celebrating the gift-giving bounty of Christmas, is a favorite of children.

The charm of the memorable lines is the ever-increasing number of gifts.   On each of the twelve days, the number of gifts corresponds with the day’s numerical sequence in these twelve days of Christmas.  So we begin with:  “On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me a partridge in a pear tree.”  Fair enough.  But “on the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.”  Then “on the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.”

Children immediately recognize a pattern!  Each stanza begins with “on the X day of Christmas, my true love sent to me X gifts and then a recitation of the previous gifts, ending with And a partridge in a pear tree.”

Whereas it is rather quaint the loved one received a (one) patridge in a pear tree on day 1, the recitation of gifts on the 12th day reveals the overwhelming bounty of  the  true love’s gift giving has reached a humorous and chaotic extreme:

On the twelfth day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Twelve drummers drumming,

Eleven pipers piping,

Ten lords a-leaping,

Eight maids a-milking,

Seven swans a-swimming,

Six geese a-laying,

Five golden rings,

Four calling birds,

Three French hens,

Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree!

Just as there are patterns in math, there are patterns in songs and poems.  Not only are the patterns mnemonic devices helping children remember the stanzas but patterns entertain and delight.  The brain is engaged anticipating how the next stanza fulfills the pattern.  Decoding patterns whether in math or in this traditional Christmas carol is fun!

How many gifts did the loved one receive?  Seventy-eight!