Lavishing your true love with all the presents listed in the medieval carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas" would set you back $7,548.45 at today's rates.
It'll take some legwork and you may have to make a few modern substitutions, but with a little effort you could surprise your loved one with the entire complement of gifts.Partridges are native to Europe but have been successfully imported. The going rate is about $50 apiece, said Ron Johnson, curator of birds at Miami's Metrozoo.
Finding a pear tree is going to be the hardest part if you live in a warm climate. The traditional sweet pear fruit tree only grows in the north where it will cost you around $34.95, according to Behnke's nursery in Beltsville, Md. Southerners might remind themselves that distance is no object in matters of the heart - or substitute an avocado pear tree and hope their beloved likes guacamole.
Whatever kind of pear tree you buy, the partridge probably won't sit in it.
"It's not their natural habitat," Johnson said. "They're more of an open ground bird. You could find them in some shrubbery, in rocky areas, but they're a ground nesting bird."
Turtle doves go for about $25, Johnson said, so there's another $50 for the pair.
Pricing French hens is tougher because there is no bird called a French hen today, Johnson said.
You could pick up some frozen chicken Cordon Bleu at the supermarket for around $3.29, but let's keep with the spirit of the song and go for live birds.
"There are some domestic poultry of French origin. Asking what they cost is like asking `What does a Chevrolet cost?' But it's got to be something like a chicken, a domestic variety of poultry. Thirty dollars, that's my best guess, something close to that," Johnson said. That makes $90 for three zoo-quality Gallic pullets.
There isn't any species called a calling bird either, though plenty of birds make noise. "If it was a canary or some other song bird that has a good vocal sound, that's about $75 each," Johnson said. Figure $300 for four of those.
The price for gold rings will vary, but remember - your true love is going to be wearing five of them, probably while cleaning lots of bird cages. Stick with something simple and cheap.
Service Merchandise, which bills itself as "America's Leading Jeweler," has a plain 14K gold band 2 millimeters wide for $24.70. That comes out to $123.50, not including sales tax.
Next on the list is half a dozen geese a-laying. Here again, geese is kind of a generic term, but they're plentiful and easy to find. Johnson figures about $20 each, for a total of $120.
The seven swans a-swimming are going to be a big-ticket item, even if your honeybunch already has a pool or pond for them to swim in.
"Swans are pretty expensive," Johnson said. He figures $400 each, for a total of $2,800.
So now you've spent $3,410 for the birds alone, and your true love is probably going to be less than thrilled with the menagerie.
"None of these are good things for pet birds," Johnson said.
Next, you need eight maids a-miilking. There aren't a lot of professional milk maids in today's labor market, but you could hire eight of the people who operate the automatic milking machines at the McArthur Dairy in Miami. Dairy spokesman Clay Stringer estimates that would cost you around $400 a day, cows not included.
The Miami City Ballet can provide the nine ladies dancing as well as the 10 lords a-leaping if you're not a stickler for peerage. There are no titled lords and ladies in the troupe but they dance and leap quite nobly.
"Nine ladies dancing I estimate at $1,080 and 10 lords a leaping I estimate at $1,300. That's sort of a vague guestimate for about two hours," said Toya Dubin, finance and operations manager for the troupe.
"You have to understand that's based on an average salary. We have principle dancers who are paid on a very different scale than our corps. In order to get 10 lords a-leaping, we'd have to use all the boys in the corps and the principles."
Last on the list are 11 pipers piping and 12 drummers drumming. You can hire all of them en masse by booking a bagpipe band through the Scottish American Society.
"You'd have to hire two pipe bands to get that many drummers. The classic band usually is formed of 12 pipers and three snares, two sides and one base (drum), so that's six drummers," said the society's Judson DeCew in Davie, Fla.
Hiring two bands would actually give you 12 drummers drumming and 24 pipers piping - 13 extra pipers, but it's Christmas so why not be generous?
Most of the bands charge around $300 for a simple engagement, so figure $600, DeCew said. However, you'll need them on both the eleventh and the twelfth day, so the total is $1,200.
The rundown: partridge, $50; pear tree, $34.95; turtle doves, $50; French hens, $90; calling birds, $300; gold rings, $123.50; geese, $120; swans, $2,800; milkmaids, $400; dancing ladies, $1,080; leaping lords, $1,300; pipers and drummers, $1,200; for a total of $7,548.45.