Who here remembers the days when there were four television networks, a PBS station, and then the abyss that was UHF? Yes, in the days before there was such a thing as cable television, there was a greater focus placed on major “event” programming, especially over the winter holidays. There were many different holiday-themed specials shown over the Christmas season. One of the most memorable of them was a Bing Crosby special that included a duet between Crosby and David Bowie in which they performed an immensely poignant rendition of “The Little Drummer Boy.” Even though it’s been thirty years since that iconic episode first aired, the duet is one that has stuck with people as being immensely touching and unforgettable. In point of fact, there are a number of versions of Christmas songs and Christmas music that are moving and interesting. This is because Christmas music and Christmas songs are more than just a way of emoting lyrics indicative of the time of the year; rather, they are passionate and moving songs that truly reflect the spirit of the Christmas season. Although most people are acquainted with Christmas songs (after all, it’s impossible to avoid hearing them on the radio throughout the month of December), the majority of people are not aware of where these songs came from. Who composed the first Christmas songs and how did they first get started?
The term “carols” comes from the name of an ancient Greek dance called choraulein, and the name “Christmas carols” refers to songs that are often sung during the Christmas season. Over the course of history, the dance would be preserved for future generations by way of cultural tradition, and it would finally make its way to Europe, where it was typically accompanied by flutes. These songs (whose pronunciation had been anglicised from choraulein to carols) had no particular holiday theme to them for many centuries; however, by the 17th century, they had become almost exclusively associated with Christmas; the origins for this association are unknown. Carols had been anglicised from their original Greek pronunciation of choraulein.
Some of the most well-known Christmas carols in history, such as “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Silent Night,” were penned in the 18th and 19th centuries. These two carols are considered to be landmarks in the history of Christmas music. The vast majority of these songs were written with the intention of being performed in church during the wintertime holiday season. However, as time went on and these songs gained popularity, people began singing them in settings other than churches. When this took place, Christmas songs entered a new chapter of their development.
Although the majority of Christmas carols initially had a spiritual focus, throughout the course of time, many of the tunes, such as Frosty the Snowman and Jingle Bells, evolved into songs that focused on secular topics instead. This was not the consequence of a rejection of the religious elements of Christmas; rather, it was a reaction to the public’s pleasure of Christmas songs that were more whimsical in character and more targeted towards children. In other words, the public enjoyed Christmas music that was more kid-friendly. Christmas songs began to get tremendous radio airplay after the recording of a number of commercial records by singers such as Bing Crosby and Burl Ives. This further cemented the songs’ popularity in the public consciousness and made it possible for the centuries-old tradition to continue for many more years with no signs of abating.