Unfortunately I cannot find a good word to replace ‘Christmas’ — neither ‘Yule’, ‘Lithe’ or any other word that I can come up with fits the metre.
- On the first day of Christmas, the Valar gave to me
A Good King from the Great Sea
- Two fallen lamps
- Three Elf-kins
- Four Free Peoples
- Five Istari
- Six Dwarf mothers
- Seven Stones a-seeing
- Eight fellows fleeing
- Nine Wraiths a-raiding
- Ten Noldor knighting
- Eleven Houses housing
- Twelve guards a-guarding
Since the Tolkien references for these are, perhaps, not equally obvious to everyone, I follow with a brief explanation of what each line refers to:
- May refer to either Elendil or Elessar — a good king from the people of Númenor that came out of the Great Sea, Belegaer.
- The Two Lamps, Iluin and Ormal, that Aulë raised, Varda filled and Manwë hallowed for the spring of Arda
- The Vanyar, the Noldor and the Sindar
- From the long list of the Ents (before the addition of Hobbits): Elves, Dwarves, Ents and Men
- The five Wizards
- According to the legend Durin, the eldest of the Dwarven Fathers was not put to sleep without a spouse, whereas each of the other six Dwarven Fathers were put to sleep each with his proper spouse.
- The Seven Palantíri mentioned in the rhyme of lore Gandalf quotes as he is riding with Pippin from Dol Baran
- The eight members of the Fellowship of the Ring that fled Moria
- Fairly obvious, I suppose — the nine Ringwraiths
- The ten companions, Felagund's most faithful knights, that went with Finrod Felagund to help Beren (and who died in Sauron's captivity without giving away the secrets of the their king). ‘Knighting’ is here meant as the proper activities of a knight rather than to the elevation to knighthood by a ruler
- The Eleven Houses of Gondolin that housed its population
- The guards, ‘knights both of Rohan and Gondor’, that guarded the bed of state of Théoden King in the Hall of the Tower before the throne of Gondor after the Battle of the Pelennor.
Here's some references to the threads in the Tolkien newsgroups
2010 version: Google Groups: Twelve days of Christmas -- again
2008 version: Google Groups: 12 Days of Christmas revisited
2003-4 version: Google Groups: 12 days of Christmas (Galadriel gave to me)
There was also an effort in the Harry Potter newsgroups a few years back (as I count these things!) that Igenlode has kindly archived at http://ivory.vlexofree.com/Tower/Fiction/Carols.html