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Sunday, Dec 16, 2012 6:06am
'12 Days of Christmas' iTunes app kicks off season early
Apple's 12 Days of Christmas app, available only in select regions (the UK, Canada, Europe), comes with a twist this year -- an early gift "to help you get started." The app, which celebrates the period between Christmas and the traditional date of the baptism of Christ, offers a set of free iTunes merchandise every day for the 12 days. The app normally doesn't begin announcing goodies until December 26, but this year has begun offering Rod Stewart's interpretation of "Let It Snow" as a free music video starting yesterday.

The promotion runs from December 26 (Boxing Day or St. Stephens Day outside the US) to the 6th of January (the Feast of the Epiphany), and generally offers a song, app, movie rental or e-book for free for a 24-hour period. The 12 Days of Christmas has its origins in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and celebrates both the birth of Christ as well as the baptism, an even more significant event than Christmas for Eastern Orthodox followers. The twelfth night is also seen as the traditional day to remove the last of the celebratory foods and holiday decorations, a bit of trivia some might wish to share with neighbors and friends.

There is some regional variation to the gifts received. For example, in the UK last year Apple's 12 gifts (at least in the UK) were an iTunes Festival song by Coldplay, an episode of the TV show Top Gear, a Lady Gaga single, the e-book "The Redbreast," the Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing iOS app, photo-editing app Snapseed (which was a paid app at the time), a One Direction single, episodes of House and 30 Rock, the iOS game Shift 2: Unleashed, the e-book Best in Travel 2012 from Lonely Planet, and a Christmas song from Foo Fighters.

In Canada, the gifts were entirely different except for the Coldplay song on Day 1 and the Lonely Planet travel e-book on Day 7. Canada saw Day 12 deliver a brace of free (live) Leonard Cohen songs, along with a track by Foster the People.

The promotion is not open to US iTunes account holders. Last year, Apple offered non-iOS device owners a website page to allow 12 days of gifts for the Mac. The pages are now live in Canada, the UK and parts of Europe.