Have you ever wondered about how many gifts the singer received in the famous Twelve Days of Christmas song? The answer reveals a surprising mathematical pattern!

(If you need reminding about the lyrics they can be found at the bottom of this page.)

Let us look at how many gifts were received on each day.

The first interesting fact is that the singer receives 364 gifts in total – one for every day of the year apart from Christmas day!

There are also some other nice hidden mathematical patterns.

Let us look at what happens on day n. On this day the singer receives 1+2+3+…+n gifts. This is also the definition of the nth triangular number. On day 7 for example the singer receives 28 gifts which is the 7th triangular number.

There is also a well known formula for adding up the first n natural numbers which is:

1 + 2 + 3 + … +

If we imagine that the singer had continued singing for 20 days they would have received:

= 210 gifts on the 20th day!

Let us now look at the running total of gifts at the end of day

The running total will be equal to where stands for the th triangular number. We are basically adding up the first triangular numbers. If you add up the first triangular numbers you end up with what is called the th tetrahedral number.

Luckily we have a formula for the nth tetrahedral number which is

Let’s check it works for our running total on day 12:

Now imagine if the singer had continued receiving gifts from their true love for 20 days. The singer will have: gifts! No wonder the true love stopped after 12 days!

Lyrics of the Twelve Days of Christmas

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 calling 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 calling 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 calling 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 calling 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 calling 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
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.

On the tenth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
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.

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
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.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,