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.
Goodness, birds were just "the gift" in the 1700's if the English carol 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' is anything to go by. As a lady in the 1700's your true love brought you geese, hens, doves, turtle doves, calling birds, swans and a partridge of course... but wait you thought at least there was jewellery?? The "golden rings" most likely referred to golden ring necked birds. But at least you also got some "leaping lords"! All the birds were eaten in era so could have been destined for the pot.
Whilst where here, verse four is actually "colly birds" not "calling birds" as often sung; colly birds are a smallish blackbird. French hens in the era were either the Crevecoeur, Houdans or the La Fleche breeds.
Alternative lyrics: There is Australian versions of the song using Australian animals such as "dingo's dancing", a religious rewrite of the lyrics, though there is no documented religious link to song. I even had the pleasure of hearing a heavy metal version of the song on the weekend... unless you are a Twisted Sister fan I'd give it miss.
Want to make your own hens?
Black fondant is rolled into egg shapes then shaped into nesting chickens.
With fondant or modelling paste use red to make wattles and combs and orange for the beaks. Black rolled out thinly is used to cut feathers from. White is rolled into small egg shapes to make the eyes and thinly rolled mauve is used to make the eyelids. Attach all pieces to hens bodies with water using a small paint brush, starting with feathers, then comb/wattle, then beak and eyes. Use a black food marker to finish the eyes. Allow to dry.
Happy Baking and Singing :)