Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by! I'm not exaggerating when I say that my favorite part of the holiday season is Christmas music. If faced with a do-or-die choice, I would gladly give up all the other holiday stuff. But not the music. So I thought it would be fun to do a little digging into the backstories of some of the songs that we've been hearing 24/7 since, oh, sometime in October.
First, a short history lesson...
The word "carol" comes from a French word for a dance done in a circle. Originally, carols were sung at other significant times of the year, not just at Christmas.The first carols have been traced back to about the 4th century A.D. but the words were in Latin so not many people understood them. That couldn't have been much fun. It wasn't until the 13th century that St. Francis of Assisi helped introduce carols in people's native languages. Christmas music, as we think of it today, didn't become really popular until the 19th century.
One difference between a Christmas carol and other kinds of Christmas music is that carols tend to be more focused on the religious meaning of the holiday. Other types of Christmas songs can be about almost anything -- snow, Santa, reindeer, bells, presents, breakups and, of course, chestnuts. With that said, I now present, for your reading pleasure and edification, (and after countless minutes of research) a collection of awesome facts about some of our favorite Christmas tunes.
"Jingle Bells" - This song, despite all the dashing through the snow, was originally written to celebrate Thanksgiving. It also has the distinction of being the first song ever broadcast from outer space.
"White Christmas" - You may be surprised to learn that this is the biggest-selling single of all time. Not just among Christmas songs - ALL songs. Bing Crosby's version alone has sold over 50 million copies.
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" - The character of Rudolph was created in 1939 by Robert May, who worked for Montgomery Ward department store, to help sell a series of holiday coloring books for kids. May passed his lyrics on to Jonny Mercer, his brother-in-law, who wrote the music. Norwegian scientists have recently determined that Rudolph's red nose was probably caused by a parasite. I'm not making this up.
"O Holy Night" - On Christmas Eve in 1906, Reginald Fessenden played this tune on his violin and sang the last verse during the first ever radio broadcast of the human voice. Cool!
"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" - For those of you old enough to remember, Brenda Lee recorded her original version when she was just 13 years old.
"Do You Hear What I Hear" - In 1962, Gloria Shane Baker wrote this as a plea for peace in response to the Cuban missile crisis, which brought the US and the USSR dangerously close to nuclear war.
"Silent Night" - Most people know that in 1818 Franz Gruber composed this music to a poem written by a priest. But here's something you might not know: during the World War I Christmas truce of 1914, soldiers from both sides sang this song together, exchanged gifts, and even played a little soccer. Unfortunately, the fighting resumed soon after.
"The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)" - Mel Torme and Robert Wells wrote this song in about an hour during a blistering heat wave in 1944. Apparently, chestnuts weren't the only things roasting.
"Wonderful Christmastime" - According to Forbes, Sir Paul McCartney receives around $400,000 in royalties every year for this song. I believe that includes the 99 cents I paid iTunes for it.
Have a Merry Christmas everyone, and a very Happy New Year!
(Information compiled from these websites: buzzfeed.com, mentalfloss.com, telegraph.co.uk, huffpost.com, wikipedia.org, thelistlove.com)
I hope you enjoyed reading this! If you did, leave an "atta girl" in the comments. If you didn't, well then have a Merry Christmas anyway! See you next time!