Christmas can get pricey if you stick to tradition

One of the Christmas season’s favorite traditional songs involves a young man buying increasingly more impressive gifts for his “true love,” who, in song and rhyme, explains the over-the-top gift giving to any who will listen to her tune.

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” is an English Christmas carol which tells a tale of hyper-presents given on each of the 12 days following Christmas. The song first went public in England in 1780 — but at the time didn’t actually have music and was more recited as a poem.

One thing is for sure, the young man in the song had quite a bit of money… even for the aristocracy during that period in history.

Another thing also is clear: the young lady ends up with a stunning collection of livestock and servants — at least 12 partridges, 22 turtle doves, and 30 French hens.

The animals are only part of the problem. The girl ends up needing to house and feed 40 milk maids — eight given each of five individual days in the song. And don’t forget the 30 lords a’leaping!!!

The twelve gifts — given once each day for nearly two weeks — quickly add up to a pretty penny! Some might think it less a romantic gesture, and more a revenge gift!

For many years, the PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. has published the PNC Christmas Price Index showing the current cost for one set of each of the gifts given in the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

The index is similar to the U.S. Consumer Price Index, which measures the changing prices of goods and services like housing, food, clothing, transportation and more that reflect the spending habits of the average American.

The goods and services in the PNC Christmas Price Index are far more whimsical, of course. And most years, the price changes closely mirror those in the U.S. Consumer Price Index. It’s a fun way to measure consumer spending and trends in the economy. So, even if Pipers Piping or Geese-a-Laying didn’t make your gift list this year, you can still learn a lot by checking out why their prices have increased or decreased over the years.

This year, there are some ups and some downs in spending on a really romantic present. For those thinking about investing in a unique, traditional gift for your “true love,” you might want to review the following cost analysis … carefully.

On the First Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me …

A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE

$209.99 (-2.3 percent) — This gift’s price decline from last year is fully due to the partridge which fell 20 percent from $25 to $20, due to oversupply of game birds. The pear tree will set you back $189.99 — the same as last year.

TWO TURTLE DOVES

$375 (+29.3 percent) — Supply couldn’t seem to keep up with the demand this year for these popular lovebirds! This gift experienced the biggest spike in price from last year, compared to the rest of the gifts.

THREE FRENCH HENS

$181.50 — It’s been a quiet year for the French hens. There was no change in their price, due to steady supply and demand in the past year.

FOUR CALLING BIRDS

$599.96 — It was business as usual this year for these feathered friends. Their price was unchanged, selling right at market value. No discount needed to stimulate sales.

FIVE GOLD RINGS

$750 — It’s been a good year to buy gold rings, as retailers kept prices steady, despite the price fluctuations in gold commodity prices this past year.

SIX GEESE-A-LAYING

$360 — Geese-a-Laying just laid back this year as the goose market became stable, leading to their price staying the same, as well. In recent years, the goose market had fluctuated due to the avian flu.

SEVEN SWANS-A-SWIMMING

$13,125 — Although historically the most unpredictable gift of the bunch, the swans stayed the same price as last year. Most bird gifts were flat this year, as demand stayed the same.

EIGHT MAIDS-A-MILKING

$58 — The eight Maids-A-Milking are chugging along at the same price as last year, reflecting the stagnant federal minimum wage, which hasn’t changed since 2009.

NINE LADIES DANCING

$7,552.84 — Despite a rising demand for dancers, dance companies plan to wait until they are more confident in the strength of the economy before they raise wages and thus, prices.

TEN LORDS-A-LEAPING

$5,508.70 — Salaries for Lords-a-Leaping rose in 2015, but not this year. Therefore, the price to hire them for your true love has also stayed the same.

ELEVEN PIPERS PIPING

$2,708.40 (+2.8 percent) — This is the first year that the pipers’ wages have increased since 2013, so the price to hire them was driven up, as well. You’ll have to spend a tad more this year to hire them for your true love.

TWELVE DRUMMERS DRUMMING

$2,934.10 (+2.8 percent) — The drummers drummed up some demand in the past year! This led to an increase in their price for hire, which is good news for the drummers, since their wages hadn’t increased in three years.

THE TRUE TOTAL COST OF CHRISTMAS IN SONG

$156,507.88 (+0.7 percent) — This represents the cumulative cost of all the gifts when you count each repetition in the song
(364 gifts)

So, unless a young man or woman is really, Really, REALLY in love, they might want to consider a good book or a box of wine (NEVER a vacuum cleaner or toaster!)

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Posted by Jim Crees

Jim is the editor in chief of the Pioneer, Herald Review and Lake County Star. He can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8360 or by e-mail at jcrees@pioneergroup.com.

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