How Much Does It Cost to Celebrate “The 12 Days of Christmas” in 2010?

A Holiday Tradition with a Price Tag

Every year, the Christmas Price Index (CPI) by PNC Wealth Management reveals the true cost of purchasing the items mentioned in the beloved song “The 12 Days of Christmas.” This whimsical tradition, tinged with a touch of holiday schtick, sheds light on the extravagant expenses associated with celebrating the festive season. In this article, we’ll explore the various expenses involved in reenacting this iconic song.

The Challenge of A Universal Price Tag

Determining a universal price tag for items like “five golden rings” is no easy task. The price can vary depending on where you purchase these items and the quality of the materials used. To illustrate this, let’s take a look at MacFarlane Pheasants in Janesville, Wis., where game birds are sold. Char Debroux, in charge of mature bird sales, reveals that the cost of a partridge in a pear tree is $13.25 for a Hungarian partridge and $11 for a chukar redleg partridge (valid until November). Clearly, there is no one-size-fits-all price.

The Complexity of Pear Trees

Determining the cost of a pear tree is equally complex. Shannon Passmore, a customer service manager at Willis Nursery in Berlin, Ga., explains that the price depends on the size and variety of the tree. While a 3- to 4-foot tree starts at $9.95, it may not be sufficient to support a partridge. For a 6- to 7-foot tree, you’d be looking at a price of $54.95. PNC’s estimate of $149.99 for a pear tree seems quite off the mark.

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Turtledoves and French Hens

When it comes to turtledoves, the Christmas Price Index and my own research are relatively close. While I found them to be $25 each, the CPI states the pair costs $56. As for French hens, or mottled houdan hens, the price varies depending on the source. One website sells them for $3.50 each, but only if you purchase a minimum of 15. The Christmas Price Index, on the other hand, states that three hens will cost you $45.

Calling Birds and the Price Parity

The Christmas Price Index and I are in perfect harmony when it comes to the cost of four calling birds, which are often interpreted as canaries. Both estimates align at $599.96.

Decoding the Golden Rings

Did you know that “five golden rings” referred to golden ring pheasants? Scott Soares, the commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, sheds light on this fascinating interpretation. According to Soares, eight of the gifts listed in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” fall under his jurisdiction. For example, to obtain six laying geese, you would need to spend between $240 and $600. Similarly, you would require permits for the seven swans. Unfortunately, the Christmas Price Index fails to account for such associated costs. Furthermore, PNC assumes that the eight maids-a-milking would earn minimum wage, which is far from the truth. In reality, the labor cost for one milk person to milk one cow is around $18 per hour.

A Conversation with Jim Dunigan

Jim Dunigan, the point person for the Christmas Price Index, defends the practice of providing a universal price for each gift. The CPI consistently polls the same vendors each year, ensuring an apples-to-apples comparison. However, Dunigan acknowledges that shopping location plays a significant role in the variation of prices. He even contemplates the possibility of creating a “discount index” and introduces the concept of hiring nine lady students to dance instead of professionals.

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The Journey of Exploring the True Cost

From the eight maids-a-milking to the pipers and drummers, the Christmas Price Index may not account for all the expenses associated with “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” The index assumes a standard price for each gift, failing to consider the nuances involved. While the CPI offers insight into the overall cost of these iconic gifts, it’s vital to research specific vendors and locations to obtain a more accurate estimate.

So, if you’re planning to embark on the extravagant journey of celebrating “The 12 Days of Christmas,” be prepared for varying costs and unexpected surprises along the way. Happy holidays!

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