The 12 days (and health hazards) of Christmas

The presents received over the twelve days of Christmas might seem harmless enough but it seems some should come with a health warning.

A Partridge in a pear tree
Partridges in pear trees seem okay at first but beware. Partridges may be easily portable but pear trees! You could well put your back out just lugging the thing out to the garden. Beautiful plumage though.

2 Turtle Doves
If they're Ninja Turtle Doves just do what ever they say and maybe offer them some pizza. Otherwise there's always a chance of contracting Bird fancierís lung .

3 French Hens
With a third day of Turkey leftovers staring you in the face you could be quite tempted to turn these into a nice Chicken Madras pronto. However, under cooked poultry is one of the biggest causes of Salmonella poisoning. For more information on food poisoning see the Digestive Disorders Foundation.

4 Calling Birds
The trouble with calling birds is that they do just that, all the bleedin' time. Day in, day out, in the middle of Coronation Street, during the football, you name it. All this cooing might just push you over the edge after the fraught events of Christmas. Try to stay calm and take a look at our Managing Anxiety leaflet.

5 Golden Rings
If these are for your fingers then there shouldn't be a problem. If they are destined for other parts of your body then see our leaflet on piercing.

6 Geese A-laying
Although Geese might be worth keeping as guard pets they could also become quite a nuisance (see 4 calling birds). You might want to watch how many of the eggs you eat as well as they are high in cholesterol.

7 Swans A-swimming
Although not quite up there with swimming with dolphins swans can be very persuasive. Before you know it you'll be down to your smalls and in the pond frolicking with them like a two year old. But beware. Swimming in polluted waters can lead to Otitis externa.

8 Maids A-milking
Surely there can't be any danger to you from 8 maids a-milking. Well, 8 maids a milking will produce quite a lot of milk and this will obviously be full fat milk not semi skimmed. Anyway see our article on Fat before you invite the milk maids in.

9 Ladies Dancing
Despite a bit of bad press not all Dancing Ladies are of a dubious nature. However, you do need to exercise some caution. If the ladies are dancing to Cliff Richard's Mistletoe and Wine a la Pans People then pop them back in the post "marked return to sender". If they're not then you'll probably fancy having a little shimmy with them, what with it being the party season and all that. However, you probably haven't been practicing your Paso Doble as much as you'd wished so take care to avoid Shin Splints.

10 Lords A-leaping
If you receive 10 Lords a-leaping then rest assured your lover is extremely resourceful. It's hard enough finding ten Lords awake in the House of Lords let alone leaping all around the shop. As leaping about probably doesn't feature high on your top ten things to do when not studying, heed the advice as per 9 Ladies Dancing.

11 Pipers Piping
It depends what sort of pipes they are. If they're musical pipes then the same health hazards as 12 drummers may apply. If they're tobacco pipes then passive smoking could be an issue. See the Facts and Figures for Passive Smoking at Ash

12 Drummer's Drumming
Drummers drumming might seem safe enough but think about the noise. Safe noise levels for everyday surroundings are around 85db. Standing too close to these drummers might damage your hearing. Besides, drummers can be extremely unstable. Empty your swimming pool and put a stout lock on the Roll Royce just in case. For more information on safe noise levels click here.

If you manage to get through the 12 days without contracting any of the conditions above then you should have a fun Christmas. You might wonder why your loved one has sent you such hazardous gifts though. Check your life assurance and see who the main beneficiaries are.

Further information

This article published on
04 December 2005

Next review date 12/1/2013


Diet and exercise

Areaof the body

Stomach and digestion

Male or female?


  Home | Terms & conditions | Privacy policy | Site map
Owned and Managed by StudentHealth Ltd