The holidays are almost over, so you better make sure you’re ready to spread the magic and joy with family and friends! This time of the year is all about being with your loved ones and spending every second creating moments to remember r all year long. And what better way to celebrate than singing holiday songs and Christmas carols like the tradition you grew up with? Everyone has their unique way of commemorating the holidays and whether baking cookies with grandma or decorating the house with your siblings is always on your holiday to-do list, observing these traditions each year shows exactly how important it is to spend the holidays with the ones you love most. Above all, even more important than the presents under your tree, BE present this holiday season – don't lose the opportunity to make memories to last a lifetime!
The word "tradition" comes from the Latin verb "tradere" which means to "hand over" or "hand down" the same way as customs are handed down from one generation to another. Even when you build your own family, you automatically incorporate your old customs into the new ones you create. People preserve their holiday traditions for so long because they serve as a connection with individuals they care about, thus making the festivities more meaningful. It is essential to choose your customs carefully because they add significant value for every member of your family, especially your children, by allowing them to create memories to cherish forever.
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It is impossible to speak of holiday traditions without mentioning one of the oldest Christmas customs: carolling. Festive songs existed long before Christmas was even considered a holiday, so there is no wonder that one of the earliest customs adopted and celebrated during the most wonderful time of the year was indeed the singing of Christmas songs. The unquestionable magic behind the powers of music and storytelling combined is what preserved this tradition and has made it one of the most beloved and celebrated by people around the world - from ancient times all the way up to this day. To honor the importance and beauty of classic Christmas carols, check out these 10 holiday songs for you and the whole family to sing along in celebration of the most wonderful time of the year. And to make it even more fun, you might even get surprised by a special guest to help set the tone.
1. Jolly Old St. Nicholas
Sing along to this classic Christmas carol with no other but Santa himself! The song “Jolly Old St. Nicholas” originated from the 1865 poem of the same name written by Emily Huntington Miller.
2. Silent Night
Today there are more than 10 thousand different Christmas songs around the world. One of the most famous ones is the carol "Silent Night.” The first time this beautiful song was performed was on Christmas Eve 1818 in Obendorf, an Austrian village on the Salzach River in present-day Austria. Its lyrics were written by a young Catholic priest named Father Joseph Mohr who had come to Obendorf the year before to serve the community. He then brought the already finished words to Franz Xaver Gruber- a primary school teacher from the nearby village of Arnsdorf who composed a melody that will later become one of the most recognizable tunes around the world. Today “Silent Night” is translated in more than 300 languages with many different arrangements for various voices and ensembles.
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3. The First Noel
According to legend, “The First Noel” dates from the 13th or 14th century, when all of Europe's medieval civilisation was thriving. The song's story was inspired by a famous holiday dramatization of a favorite Bible story called Miracle Plays. It tells the tale of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, based on the accounts of Luke 2 and Matthew 2.
4. Up On the Housetop
5. O Christmas Tree
Written in 1824 by the Leipzig organist, teacher, and composer Ernst Anschütz, “O Christmas Tree” should be on your list of Christmas songs to sing with your family this holiday season.
6. Jingle Bells
Is there even a person that hasn't heard of this famous holiday song? Written by James Lord Pierpont, “Jingle Bells” was released in the autumn of 1857.
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7. Deck the Halls
The lyrics of this traditional Christmas carol were written by the Scottish musician Thomas Oliphant all the way back in 1862!
8. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
This Christmas carol is based on the 1863 poem "Christmas Bells" by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
9. It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
This song was written by Edmund Sears, and it was first sung on December 29, 1849, in Boston, Massachusetts.
10. We Wish you a Merry Christmas
Finish it off with the most popular Christmas song, the origins of which remains a mystery up to this day!
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The Holiday Blog hopes you enjoyed the list of the best songs to sing along to during the holidays and that you had fun learning the story of your favorite ones. But have you ever wondered how carolling became a beloved part of the Christmas celebrations around the world? Well, here is a little story.
The Origin of Christmas Carols
The origins of Christmas carols can be traced back thousands of years before the holiday itself was even observed. The earliest holiday celebration chants date back to pre-Christian times and were traditionally performed by the pagan tribes as a way to celebrate their own holidays. However, the shortest day of the year, also known as the Winter Solstice, was the peak of these celebratory activities. Megaliths were arranged in a circle, around which pagans gathered and sang, and danced as part of their own rituals. With the arrival of Christianity, these end-of-year celebrations have been given a new meaning and purpose. It is believed that the oldest religious chants were inspired exactly from the pagans’ celebrations and can be traced back many centuries ago. These Christian songs were created using the already existing pagan tunes, but were given longer, liturgical Latin chants.
It was in 129 AD that a Roman bishop ordered the use of a carol known as the “Angel Hymn” during the first official Christmas observation- the Midnight Mass. According to legend, Greek Orthodox Church composer Kosmas of Majuma wrote one of the first Christmas chants around 760 AD.
The carols spread across Europe in the first millennium, but because they were written in Latin, which back then was only spoken and understood by educated people, the tradition of carolling and celebrating Christmas in general struggled to gain traction. In 1223 St. Francis of Assisi encouraged the creation of the first living nativity scenes and holiday parades which became widely popular among the public. The most remarkable trait of these festivities was the inclusion of Christmas carols sung in the native tongue of the commoners.
This allowed the chants to spread across Europe and even “settle” into the homes of the common people, as the carols were no longer restricted to churches due to their complicated lyrics. After this the tradition evolved and spread quickly as each country and region was able to incorporate their own unique nuance to it.
The Holiday Blog hopes you learned a lot about your favorite Christmas carols and got some ideas on how to enjoy the time off with friends and family during the holidays. The most wonderful time of the year should be filled with moments to remember- captured, sung, and celebrated.