On the Second Day of Christmas

My True Love Gave to Me – Two Turtle Doves

Doves are a common symbol for love and peace, two Christmas themes. Turtle doves are a common species of dove found in France and England and they were often kept in cages as pets during the Middle Ages and earlier. There are a number of references to doves in the Bible. Turtle doves also migrate to warmer climates in winter and their re-appearance heralds the approach of spring. The turtle dove is species that mates for life, so the giving of two turtle doves could be a way the lover is expressing his intention of love and marriage.

In the Middle Ages and Renaissance England it was common to celebrate the full Christmas season with parties, feasts and the giving of gifts during the twelve days of Christmas. In this carol we see the giving of gifts, references to food that would be included in the feasts and the courting that surely went on as the coming together of large groups of people, especially young and single men and women, provided the perfect opportunity to seek one's future mate.

While the other six birds sung about in the first seven stanzas of this song probably ended up on the table as one of the meat courses, the turtle doves would have been delivered to one's lover live and in a cage to be kept as pets for enjoyment. In selecting these particular birds, and a pair at that, the lover probably also intended them as a daily reminder of his desire to become a couple with his true love.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Below are the words to each verse of the Twelve Days of Christmas Song - Click on the gift in each verse to go to an article on the history and meaning of that verse.

On the first day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

A partridge in a pear tree.

On the second day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree.

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.

On the fourth day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Four collie birds,

Three French hens,

Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the fifth day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Five golden rings,

Four collie birds,

Three French hens,

Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the sixth day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Six geese a-laying,

Five golden rings,

Four collie birds,

Three French hens,

Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the seventh day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Seven swans a-swimming,

Six geese a-laying,

Five golden rings,

Four collie birds,

Three French hens,

Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the eighth day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Eight maids a-milking,

Seven swans a-swimming,

Six geese a-laying,

Five golden rings,

Four collie birds,

Three French hens,

Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the ninth day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Nine ladies dancing,

Eight maids a-milking,

Seven swans a-swimming,

Six geese a-laying,

Five golden rings,

Four collie birds,

Three French hens,

Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the tenth day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Ten lords a-leaping,

Nine ladies dancing,

Eight maids a-milking,

Seven swans a-swimming,

Six geese a-laying,

Five golden rings,

Four collie birds,

Three French hens,

Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the eleventh day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Eleven pipers piping,

Ten lords a-leaping,

Nine ladies dancing,

Eight maids a-milking,

Seven swans a-swimming,

Six geese a-laying,

Five golden rings,

Four collie birds,

Three French hens,

Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Twelve drummers drumming,

Eleven pipers piping,

Ten lords a-leaping,

Nine ladies dancing,

Eight maids a-milking,

Seven swans a-swimming,

Six geese a-laying,

Five golden rings,

Four collie birds,

Three French hens,

Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree!

© 2006 Chuck Nugent

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5 comments

Luke 2:24 5 years ago

Also two turtledoves were sacrificed for Jesus' birth (as tradition)


makayla 5 years ago

this is so good i look it. it is cool and i just saying that who ever did this they should be pruod of there slef


valeriebelew profile image

valeriebelew 6 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

This is wonderful! I had no idea Turtle Doves mated for life. It does make the gift much more significant. Great hub. Thumbs up!


tim 7 years ago

this websute sux


lucy 7 years ago

it's an awsome website. but pls add the activities done on this day

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