Unveiling the Mystery: Exploring the Significance of the Calling Bird in the 12 Days of Christmas

Introduction – Unveiling the Mystery of the Calling Bird in the 12 Days of Christmas

Introduction to Calling Bird in 12 Days of Christmas

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” is a cherished holiday tradition that takes us on a delightful countdown, revealing a new gift with each verse. Among the memorable presents mentioned in this festive song, one that often captures our curiosity is the “calling bird.” But what exactly is a calling bird in the context of this beloved carol?

To understand the calling bird, we must delve into the origins of the song itself. Originating in 16th-century England as a memory and forfeit game, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” evolved into a popular Christmas carol that continues to be sung and cherished today.

In some versions of the song, the lyrics were misheard or misinterpreted, leading to the substitution of “calling bird” for the original term “colly bird” or “colley bird.” The term “colly” derived from the Old English word “col,” meaning “coal” or “dark,” refers to a blackbird or a bird with dark plumage.

Interestingly, this misinterpretation of “colly bird” as “calling bird” has gained widespread acceptance, shaping modern renditions of the song. This deviation has sparked curiosity about the true meaning and significance of the calling bird in the 12 Days of Christmas.

Throughout this article, we will explore the history, identity, meaning, importance, and symbolism of the calling bird. We will also provide insights on how to celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas with this intriguing avian gift. Join us on a journey to uncover the enchanting tale behind the calling bird and its role in this beloved holiday tradition.

The History of the 12 Days of Christmas Song

12 Days of Christmas Song

The 12 Days of Christmas is a beloved carol with origins tracing back to at least the 18th century. Its exact authorship and origins remain unclear, but the song has undergone various changes and interpretations over time, contributing to its enduring popularity.

One theory suggests French origins for the song, with similarities to a traditional French chant called “Les Douze Mois” (The Twelve Months). However, the English version of the song evolved separately and developed its own unique structure and lyrics.

The song’s repeated verse structure, where each verse adds a new gift to the previous ones, creates a sense of anticipation and makes it engaging and memorable to sing. The gifts mentioned in the song, such as the partridge in a pear tree, the turtle doves, and the golden rings, have been subject to various interpretations and symbolic meanings.

During the 19th century, the 12 Days of Christmas gained popularity in England and was printed in various songbooks and collections. It became an integral part of Christmas festivities, both in religious and secular contexts.

It’s important to note that the “calling bird” mentioned in the song is often misunderstood. The original lyrics refer to a “colly bird,” an archaic term for a blackbird or a European thrush. However, over time, the term was misheard and transformed into “calling bird” or “collie bird,” likely due to regional accents and misprints in songbooks. This misinterpretation has become so prevalent that “calling bird” is now the commonly used phrase in modern renditions of the song.

The 12 Days of Christmas has endured through the years and has been adapted and parodied by numerous artists and writers, adding new layers of creativity and humor to the song. These adaptations showcase its versatility and cultural significance.

In the next section, we will explore the true identity of the “calling bird” and uncover its meaning within the context of the 12 Days of Christmas.

The Identity and Meaning of the Calling Bird

Calling Bird

The popular Christmas carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” features a bird that has sparked both confusion and symbolic interpretations. Let’s unravel the mysteries surrounding the “calling bird” or, more accurately, the “colly bird” or “colley bird.”

The Identity of the Calling Bird

In the original lyrics, the term used is “colly bird” or “colley bird.” “Colly” refers to a coal-black color and is an archaic word for a blackbird. However, changes in pronunciation and regional accents over time led to the misinterpretation of “colly bird” as “calling bird.”

Blackbirds, particularly common blackbirds, are known for their black feathers and melodious songs. These birds likely became associated with the term “colly bird” due to their appearance and vocal abilities. Their beautiful, melodic calls add to the enchantment of the holiday season.

Symbolically, the mention of blackbirds in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” may represent the beauty of nature and the joy of hearing their songs during the festive period. As the song depicts gifts given over the twelve days following Christmas, the inclusion of blackbirds could symbolize the natural world’s contribution to the celebrations.

The Meaning of the Calling Bird

Meaning of Calling Bird

While the term “calling bird” has become widely accepted, the original term was “colly bird,” referring to a blackbird. Understanding the meaning behind the “four calling birds” requires delving into Christian symbolism.

The “four calling birds” in the song represent the four Gospel writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These writers are called “calling birds” because they are seen as sharing or proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ’s birth. The association between the Gospel writers and birds stems from their symbolic role as messengers of God, spreading the teachings and message of Jesus Christ to the world.

Each Gospel writer offers a unique perspective on Jesus’ life and ministry, and their writings hold great significance for Christians. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were chosen to represent the diverse testimonies and teachings of Jesus, forming the foundation of Christian faith and belief.

While alternative interpretations exist, such as representing the four seasons or the four elements, the association with the Gospel writers remains the prevailing and widely accepted interpretation.

In conclusion, the “calling bird” in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” originally referred to a blackbird, symbolizing the beauty of nature and the joy of their songs during the holiday season. However, the term evolved over time, leading to the misinterpretation as “calling bird.” Symbolically, the “four calling birds” represent the four Gospel writers, emphasizing their role as messengers of God and the importance of their writings in Christian tradition.

The Symbolism and Importance of the Calling Bird in “The Twelve Days of Christmas”

Symbolism of Calling Bird in "The Twelve Days of Christmas"

The calling bird, also known as the colly bird, holds deep symbolic significance in the beloved Christmas song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Beyond its material value as a gift, the calling bird represents various themes that enrich our understanding and appreciation of this timeless holiday tune.

A Gift of Melodious Song

Gift of Melodious Song

Represented by the European goldfinch, the calling bird brings more than a tangible present. Its inclusion among the twelve gifts emphasizes the power of music and its ability to uplift spirits. With its delightful and enchanting song, the goldfinch captivates listeners, infusing joy and harmony into the festive season.

Symbolizing Joy and Celebration

Symbolism of Joy and Celebration in Calling Bird

The calling bird’s presence on the fifth day of Christmas amplifies the jubilant nature of the holiday season. Its vibrant plumage, featuring a yellow body and contrasting black and white wings, mirrors the joyful atmosphere and liveliness associated with this time of year. Through the calling bird, the song encourages us to embrace happiness, share joy, and celebrate together.

Proclamation and Spiritual Significance

Proclamation and Spiritual Significance of Calling Bird

While interpretations of the song may vary, the calling bird holds deeper symbolic meanings for some. It has been suggested that the bird represents the voice of the Holy Spirit or the joyous proclamation of the Gospel. In this context, the bird’s melodious song becomes a metaphor for spreading messages of faith, love, and goodwill during the Christmas season. Its inclusion in the song serves as a reminder of the spiritual significance of the holiday.

Inspiring Connection with Nature

Connection with Nature and Blackbirds

The calling bird’s association with the goldfinch, a native bird of Europe, North Africa, and western Asia, invites us to connect with the natural world. Amidst the busyness of modern life, the song reminds us to appreciate the beauty of wildlife and the wonders of creation. Recognizing the calling bird’s significance in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” encourages us to preserve and cherish nature’s precious gifts.

In summary, the calling bird in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” holds great importance and symbolism. It represents the gift of melodious song, symbolizes joy and celebration, and can evoke spiritual interpretations. Moreover, it encourages a deeper connection with nature. As we sing along to this beloved holiday tune, let us remember the profound significance of the calling bird and the messages it conveys during this festive season.

How to Celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas with a Calling Bird

Celebrating 12 Days of Christmas with Calling Bird

The 12 Days of Christmas is a festive tradition that extends the celebration of Christmas beyond December 25th. Incorporating the theme of the calling bird, or blackbird, into your festivities can add a unique touch to your holiday celebrations. Here are some engaging ideas to make the most of the 12 Days of Christmas with a calling bird:

Decorate with Blackbird-Themed Ornaments

Enhance the ambiance of your home by incorporating blackbird-themed ornaments into your holiday decorations. Look for ornaments shaped like blackbirds or featuring blackbird motifs. Hang them on your Christmas tree or display them throughout your living space to create a charming and festive atmosphere.

Create Blackbird-Inspired Crafts

Blackbird-Inspired Crafts

Infuse your celebrations with a calling bird theme through creative DIY projects. Make paper cutouts or origami blackbirds and use them as decorations. Alternatively, paint or draw the beautiful blackbird species to create artwork. Display your creations proudly during the 12-day period to showcase your festive spirit.

Listen to Blackbird Songs

Immerse yourself in the melodious tunes of the blackbird by playing recordings or finding live performances. The blackbird’s song is known for its beauty, evoking a sense of joy and tranquility. Create a playlist of blackbird songs or search for online performances to enjoy during the 12 Days of Christmas.

Watch Movies or Documentaries Featuring Blackbirds

Movies or Documentaries Featuring Blackbirds

Explore the fascinating world of blackbirds by watching movies or documentaries dedicated to these enchanting creatures. Look for films that showcase their behavior, habitat, and the significance of their song. It can be an educational and entertaining way to deepen your appreciation for the calling bird and its connection to the 12 Days of Christmas.

Prepare Blackbird-Themed Treats

Delight your taste buds with blackbird-themed treats during the 12 Days of Christmas. Bake cookies or cupcakes in the shape of blackbirds using cookie cutters or molds. Decorate them with black icing or edible decorations to bring them to life. Alternatively, prepare a special blackbird-inspired dish or cocktail to enjoy with your loved ones as you celebrate the holiday season.

Share Blackbird Facts and Stories

Engage your family and friends in the spirit of the calling bird by sharing interesting facts and stories about blackbirds. Highlight their significance in folklore, literature, and cultural traditions. Discuss the misinterpretation of the calling bird in “The 12 Days of Christmas” song and its original representation as a blackbird. Encourage conversations and create a deeper connection to the symbolism of the calling bird throughout the 12-day celebration.

By incorporating these ideas into your 12 Days of Christmas festivities, you can pay homage to the calling bird and enrich your holiday experience. Whether through decorations, crafts, music, movies, treats, or sharing knowledge, embracing the blackbird theme adds a touch of whimsy and cultural significance to this cherished tradition. Enjoy the celebration and the joyous spirit it brings as you honor the calling bird and all it represents in the 12 Days of Christmas.



In conclusion, the “calling bird” holds a significant place within the beloved Christmas carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” As we’ve explored in this article, the term “calling bird” is a variation of the original phrase used in the earliest versions of the song, which was “colly bird.” Over time, this term underwent changes through mishearings and misinterpretations, eventually leading to the popular usage of “calling bird” in contemporary renditions of the song.

The importance of the “calling bird” lies in its representation of the gifts given on the fourth day of Christmas according to the song’s lyrics. While it may not possess a distinct symbolic meaning on its own, the “calling bird” is often associated with the “colly bird” or “blackbird,” which can carry various symbolic interpretations. Birds, particularly blackbirds, have been historically linked to concepts such as freedom, communication, and protection in folklore and literature.

To celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas with a “calling bird,” individuals can engage in a range of activities. This may include decorating with bird-themed ornaments, incorporating bird motifs into festive displays, or even participating in bird-watching excursions. By embracing the spirit of the song and its connection to nature, we can add an extra layer of joy and meaning to our holiday celebrations.

In summary, the “calling bird” in the 12 Days of Christmas song represents the gifts exchanged on the fourth day of the festivities. Whether we interpret it as a blackbird or a metaphor for communication and freedom, the “calling bird” adds depth and symbolism to one of the most cherished holiday traditions. As we join in the merriment of the Twelve Days of Christmas, let us remember the enduring magic of this whimsical avian gift.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a calling bird in the 12 Days of Christmas?

Meaning of Calling Bird in 12 Days of Christmas

The calling bird in the 12 Days of Christmas refers to one of the gifts mentioned in the song. Originally, the term was “colly bird,” which referred to a blackbird or a bird with dark plumage. However, over time, the term was misheard and transformed into “calling bird.” Today, the calling bird is commonly associated with the European goldfinch and symbolizes the gift of melodious song.

2. Why is the calling bird often misunderstood?

The calling bird is often misunderstood because of misinterpretations and mishearings of the original lyrics. The term “colly bird” or “colley bird” was commonly used in the past to refer to a blackbird. However, regional accents and misprints in songbooks led to the term being misheard as “calling bird.” This misinterpretation has become widely accepted and is now the commonly used phrase in modern renditions of the song.

3. What is the symbolic meaning of the calling bird in the 12 Days of Christmas?

The calling bird, originally the “colly bird” or blackbird, holds symbolic meanings in the 12 Days of Christmas. Symbolically, the blackbird represents the beauty of nature, the joy of their songs during the holiday season, and the natural world’s contribution to the celebrations. In addition, the “four calling birds” in the song symbolize the four Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and their role as messengers of God, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ’s birth.

4. Can the calling bird represent something other than a blackbird?

While the prevailing interpretation of the calling bird is that it represents a blackbird, alternative interpretations do exist. Some believe that the calling bird could represent the four seasons or the four elements. However, the association between the calling bird and the blackbird, symbolizing






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