Saturday, December 20, 2014


            I'm not sure if it was because of the Baby Boomer radio/television era that I grew up in or Dad, Mom and their children's involvement in the United Church or just the way things generally were back in the day while I was growing up but around this time of year we listened to Christmas music. A lot of Christmas music. I loved it. Still do. It wells up a magical time of  the year for me.

            Apparently, not everybody feels this way as I have heard, more than once, that some folks would just prefer a few songs on Christmas day or none at all. Maybe if they didn't start playing Christmas music on November 1st we wouldn't be sick of it by the 1st of December. Just a thought.

            I'm a very nostalgic person anyway so I cannot understand how people can say that they just don't like Christmas music. Do they not like any of it? Or just some of it? Were they not exposed to it while they were growing up or were they overexposed perhaps? Maybe they just don't like the Irish Rovers' "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer"? I've got mixed feelings on that one, too, but how can you not like "Silent Night"? Or "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas."? Depending on the rendition, of course.

            Music was an early feature of the Christmas season and its celebrations. The earliest chants, litanies and hymns were Latin works intended for use during church liturgy, rather than popular songs. The 13th century saw the rise of the "carol" written in the vernacular.

            In the Middle Ages, the English combined circle dances with singing and called them carols. Later, the word carol came to mean a song in which a religious topic is treated in a style that is familiar or festive.

            Many of these carols hearken from centuries ago, the oldest (Wexford Carol) originating in the 12th century. The newest came together in the mid-to-late-19th century. Many began in non-English speaking countries, often with non-Christmas themes and were later converted into English carols with English lyrics added. Christmas carols in English first appeared in 1426 and music itself soon became one of the greatest tributes to Christmas.

            Many of the traditional Christmas carols such as "Away in a Manger", "O Come All Ye Faithful", "Silent Night", "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "O Holy Night", to name just a few, were written and popularized in the 19th Century. Secular tunes such as "Jingle Bells", "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas" and "Up on the House Top" were also popularized in the 19th Century.

            More recently popular Christmas songs, often Christmas songs introduced in theater, television, film, or other entertainment media, tend to be specifically about Christmas or have a wintertime theme. They are typically not overtly religious. The most popular set of these titles—heard over airwaves, on the Internet, in shopping centres, elevators and even on the street during the Christmas season—have been composed and performed from the 1930s onward. Name a pop star from Frank Sinatra in the 40's to Bono in the 2000's and they've recorded a Christmas song. Some to great success...some...not so much.

            According to a recent survey there are a lot more people who like to listen to Christmas music than those who don't so whether you are a big, big fan, like me, or an old pooh-poohing bah-humbugger, music and Christmas will indelibly be linked.

"One thing I love about Christmas music is that it has a tradition of warmth."- Zooey Deschanel (1980-).

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