As the holidays approach, you practically can’t go anywhere without hearing Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You”. It follows you in the grocery store, or at your friend’s house or in the hallways a minute before the bell rings. Christmas music isn’t anything new, and the tradition of singing songs during the holidays has been around for awhile. In honor of the season, here is my gift to you: the history of Christmas music.
Pre-1700s: Carols were sung in Europe, but were not about Christmas. The earliest Xmas songs date back to the Middle Ages and were inspired by bible verses.
1700s: Baroque composer, George Frideric Handel, publishes a book of carols including popular songs like “Joy to the World”, “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “O Come All Ye Faithful”.
1857: Arguably one of the most popular Christmas songs, “Jingle Bells”, is written by James Pierpont as a song to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Late 1800s: As traditions — such as decorating a tree and opening presents — became more popular during the holiday, so did Christmas music. This was the time when songs such as “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Away in a Manger” were first created.
1930s: To distract from the Great Depression, happy Christmas songs like “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and “Winter Wonderland” were created and popularized by Perry Como and the Andrew Sisters.
1942: Bing Crosby releases his Christmas album, “Merry Christmas”, featuring the song “White Christmas”. In 2007, two research organizations, Edison Media Research and Pinnacle Media Worldwide, surveyed for the most beloved Christmas song. In both surveys, “White Christmas” recorded by Crosby was voted number one.
1971: “Merry Xmas (War is Over)” was released by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, proving that sometimes a Christmas song is more than just a Christmas song; in this case, a protest to the Vietnam War. It’s also just a really good song.
1980s: Songs like “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “Jingle Bell Rock” are debuted in the 80s, giving a new life to xmas music.
1994: Mariah Carey simultaneously releases her hit single “All I Want for Christmas is You” and happens to change the world.
2010s: Today, many popular artists cover famous Christmas songs or even write their own. Many artists have a least one Christmas album out there to be enjoyed in December and not listened to all year long. In my personal opinion, these popular albums will never match the classic xmas sounds from Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Crosby, but there are still some worth listening to.
Best of Christmas Past: “Carol of the Bells” - Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” - Frank Sinatra, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” - John Lennon and Yoko Ono, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” - Andy Williams, “White Christmas” - Bing Crosby, “What Christmas Means to Me” - Stevie Wonder
Best of Christmas Present: “Christmas Wrapping” - The Waitresses, “Christmas Lights” - Coldplay, “Christmas in L.A.” - Vulfpeck, “Carol of Bells” - Pentatonix, “Santa Baby” - Ariana Grande, “Jingle Bells (feat. The Puppini Sisters)” - Micheal Buble
Best of Christmas Future: