I know some traditions die hard but there comes a time when even the most hallowed tradition has to adapt to the modern world.

Twelve pence to a shilling had to be replaced. So too did twelve inches to a foot so that, in this modern age, twelve inches is actually ten kilojoules.

I say the metric dozen is not far away and special boxes will have to be manufactured for ten eggs.

On second thoughts, they could keep the twelve-compartment boxes and put little surprises in the spare two - sort of like Christmas crackers. You might get a little fluffy chicken toy and a lame riddle.


I'm sure that daylight saving will also go metric in the near future; I'm afraid that people will just have to get used to faded curtains. I don't know quite how it will work but it will probably involve putting your clocks forward by ten kilojoules. Or do you put them back? I'm sure they'll let us know.

It should therefore come as no surprise to you that even Christmas songs have to get the cut.

The Twelve days of Christmas have been around long enough and caused enough arithmetical confusion. Any song which mentions the twelve days of Christmas will have to be adapted.

Here's one I prepared earlier:

The Ten Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me
A bellbird in a beech tree.

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Two spotted shags
And a bellbird in a beech tree.

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Three tom tits
Two spotted shags
And a bellbird in a beech tree.


Of course, the cumulative nature of the original has to be retained in the metric version but, because you know how it works, I'm not going to run through each item every time.

The three I've done so far can serve as the model and they might already be suggesting to you that losing a couple of days from the song is no real loss. It goes on:

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Four buzzy bees.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Five hunks of hoki.

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Six perfect pavs.

So that I don't get accused of milking my word count, I'll now carry on in an even more abridged way.

Seven silver ferns

Eight Edmonds cookbooks

Nine rubber jandals

Ten ANZAC biscuits.

And that's it. The finished metric version of the song.

I realise many of you would have preferred to start with a pohutukawa tree but I'm afraid it simply has too many syllables. Its more scientific name, Metrosideros excels, causes even more problems.

Alert readers will also have spotted that I have replaced many of the song's original gift suggestions with more practical and appropriate ones.

What anyone would do with twelve lords a-leaping I shudder to think so their departure is no biggie. And, anyway, wrapping them would be a nightmare.

The eight maids a-milking are no real loss either given that the dairy industry is now fully automated.

And losing the pipers and the drummers was a no-brainer; there's already enough racket around here.

The next project on my agenda is to decimalise the disciples.

So I hope you appreciate my updating of a classic and the fact that I am even about to practise what I preach by concluding with a metric sentence.

I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy.