The Origins of Christmas Songs and Traditions

History of Christmas Carols
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The tradition of carol singers going from door to door came about because they were banned from churches in the Middle Ages. It takes place on Christmas Eve and always begins with the carol, 'Once in Royal David's City' sung by a solo chorister. White Christmas by Irving Berlin is the biggest-selling Christmas song of all time. It is estimated to have sold approximately million copies on record and sheet music. He was told the day before Christmas that the church organ was broken and would not be prepared in time for Christmas Eve. He was saddened by this and could not think of Christmas without music, so he wanted to write a carol that could be sung by choir to guitar music.

He sat down and wrote three stanzas. Later that night the people in the little Austrian Church sang "Stille Nacht" for the first time. Follow projectbritain on Twitter: Follow Mandy Barrow on Twitter. Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website.

Follow me on Twitter. Wassail was a thick, hot spiced beverage that helped keep the traveling well-wishers warm; in its heyday, the drink was just as much of a holiday tradition as eggnog is in modern times. As wassailing evolved, with children often going door-to-door, it became more associated with Christmas and caroling. Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas celebrations in England from to he believed Christmas should be a serious holiday, and celebrated accordingly , and caroling did not experience a surge in popularity until the 19th century, when it's thought that the joyful, expressive hymns were well-received in the Victorian Era.

A common legend says that Christmas carols were named after Carol Poles, a little English girl who supposedly went missing in London during the holiday season in the late 19th century. People supposedly searched for her by going door-to-door, singing to declare their good intentions. Although it may be a nice story, it has no factual basis. How to Make a Christmas Wreath.

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These joyful songs quickly spread across Europe to be sung in homes and with families. In England, traveling minstrels moved from village to village singing popular religious Christmas songs, with the occasional lewd ballad tossed in for entertainment.

Where Good Music Matters

The tradition of singing Christmas songs became common across Europe. At the time, it was called wassailing. Wassail was a mulled wine, so we can see that singing these songs was still associated with popular festivals and enjoyment.

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However, the tradition was treated differently in England after the nation separated from the Catholic Church. Christmas songs were seen by Puritans as too Catholic or too based in pagan customs. When the Puritans came to power in the 17th century, they attempted to abolish the practice of wassailing.

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Wassailing remained popular in English villages, but it was not as public of a practice as it used to be until the 19th century. He brought with him several German customs, including the lively celebration of Christmas.

How Christmas Carols Have Become Part of Our Christmas Traditions

This celebration, known as the Yuletide, included chopping down pine trees and covering them in candles, and popular music. The wassailing traditions of England were reinvigorated with enthusiasm, now known simply as caroling.

Christmas: Origin, History, & Traditions

Get access risk-free, just create an account. Victorian caroling became an important tradition, in which families could publicly demonstrate their piety and faith by singing popular religious songs from house to house. The old wassailing songs of England were standardized, new ones were written, and the first true canon of Christmas carols appeared.

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In , Sir John Stainer published the first major collection of Christmas carols, adapted from the traditional wassailing songs of English villages, German celebration songs, and his own original compositions. While most of these were religiously focused, some Victorian-era carols of Britain and the United States had a more secular focus, such as Jolly Old St.

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Nicholas and Jingle Bells. These songs became important parts of English and American holiday celebrations, and while the door-to-door caroling became less popular, the songs themselves did not. More songs were written in the 20th century, building upon popular traditions and tied closely to the advent of radio, film, and then television.

About Christmas Carols

Phone number is required. The tradition of singing Christmas songs became common across Europe. As more people owned radios, music was easier to spread and additional tunes were introduced. The local Unitarian church where he'd later play the song on the organ boasts historical markers declaring it the birthplace of "Jingle Bells. Year Expiration Year is required.

So let it snow, let it snow, let it snow, because few things mark the season like our Christmas carols. Christmas carols are popular songs that celebrate the Christmas holiday or season. They can be religious or secular, but are marked by upbeat and joyful tones.

This tradition draws from ancient pagan celebrations of the winter solstice, and early attempts to transform that into a Christian holiday. In the medieval era, St. Francis of Assisi turned the Latin songs of the clergy into popular songs in local languages, and popularity grew. In England, the practice of wassailing , or singing songs door-to-door for treats, was popular but later discouraged by the Puritans. It wasn't until the Victorian era of the 19th century that caroling emerged again, reinvigorated by the German traditions of Prince Albert.

Old songs were standardized, new ones written, and Christmas became a very public and popular celebration. The songs have stuck with us to this day, keeping us a-caroling all winter long. To unlock this lesson you must be a Study. Login here for access. Did you know… We have over college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1, colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree.

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Christopher Muscato Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado. Add to Add to Add to. Want to watch this again later? Christmas carols are a ubiquitous part of our society, but where do they come from? In this lesson, we'll explore the long history of this tradition and see how it turned into the custom we know today. Christmas Carols Between October and November of every year, American society becomes divided in one of our fundamental debates: Pagans and Romans Christmas carols have origins in two very different traditions.

Medieval Carols Christmas songs in Latin and by the clergy weren't very popular amongst the common people. According to tradition, Francis of Assisi developed the nativity scene to accompany the nativity plays From Puritans to Victorians The tradition of singing Christmas songs became common across Europe.