Article Image

The 12 (Unhealthy) Days of Christmas

Op-Med is a collection of original articles contributed by Doximity members.

It’s that time of year again! PNC Financial Services Group has announced its annual Christmas Price Index (CPI), which represents the cost of all the gifts in “The 12 Days of Christmas” song. This year’s price tag: $39,094.93! And that’s just for one mention in each verse. The cumulative cost of all 364 gifts (counting each repetition) is $170,609.46!

First of all, who really celebrates Christmas for 12 days? I’ve always known Christmas to be a one-day affair, two if you count Christmas Eve. But 12 days? Was this some attempt by Bing Crosby to outdo the eight nights of Hanukkah? 

And while PNC calculates the financial cost every year, I’m more interested in the health costs.

The first seven days are dominated by birds. (Who gives a bird as a gift? I was pissed when my kid came home with a goldfish as a birthday party favor. “Here you go, kids! Here’s a delicate creature your parents are now obligated to keep alive.” I’d be really upset to suddenly be responsible for a bird, let alone 184 of them! Did PNC include an aviary and birdseed in its calculations?) Birds carry a lot of disease, folks. Does your true love want the bird flu for Christmas? How ‘bout 42 geese a-laying a-salmonella eggs? 

Forty maids-a-milking means 40 potentially mad cows spreading disease! And are you going to pasteurize that milk or risk a listeriosis outbreak? What if your true love is lactose intolerant? Or at the very least, gets gassy when consuming dairy? That eighth night of Christmas (and beyond) might be pretty unpleasant for both of you!

Thirty-six ladies dancing and 30 lords a-leaping is just asking for concussions and orthopedic injuries. Why not invite the Knick-Knack Paddywhack guy from that other counting song to join the fun?! He always winds up with multiple contusions from blunt trauma to his thumb, knees and thighs. And his dog will fit right in with your growing menagerie! He could even add rabies to the mix!

As a final insult, 22 pipers and 12 drummers on the last day are sure to give a headache and possibly cause hearing loss.

So, folks, please don’t follow the script of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” You’ll be saving a bundle in your bank account. And you’ll avoid serious illness or injury. Just get your true love one gold ring. And maybe a Partridge Family Christmas CD and a box of Harry and David pears.

Image: Shutterstock by Michele Paccione

Brad Nieder, MD—The Healthy Humorist®—is a doctor, funny speaker, and clean comedian who believes laughter is the best medicine ... unless you have giggle incontinence. Dr. Brad (@HealthyHumorist) dispenses healthcare humor with wellness advice and an uplifting message to audiences across the country.

All opinions published on Op-Med are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of Doximity or its editors. Op-Med is a safe space for free expression and diverse perspectives. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email

More from Op-Med