Meta: Exploring the history of Christmas carols.
How do you know it’s Christmas, you may wonder, well this is a fairly simple answer my friend, simply take a stroll down to your local shopping center and if you can hear Christmas carols beaming out of the speakers then you know Santa’s sleigh bells aren’t far behind you. Of course there are other clues as well, the shopping malls and popular outdoor areas often setup giant Christmas trees bedecked with all of the bells and baubles, shops begin advertising the menagerie of gifts and toys for all of the good girls and boys and someone will pull out some kind of holiday themed movie. But why are Christmas Carols such an integral part of Christmas, well we journeyed to find the answer for you.
Song has been with humans as a way of expressing ourselves long before the advent of the microphone; however Christmas carols evolved from the pagan song and dance rituals that would take place around the winter solstice or December 22nd each year. A carol literally means a song or dance that is used in praising someone or something. When Christianity stepped in as a would be dominant religion within medieval Europe, the early Christians thought that carols would be an excellent addition to Christmas observances and gave the villagers at the time Christian carols to sing around this time instead of their old pagan ones.
However, Christmas carols began to lose favor and were in jeopardy of dying out at one stage because all of the songs were written in Latin, which was a language that many of the common folk within in the Middle Ages were unable to comprehend. Many villagers began to feel disconnected from Christmas and no longer felt the need to celebrate it, something had to be done. All of this was stopped by St Francis of Assisi with his Nativity plays, in these performances songs would be sung by the performers about the events of the nativity scene usually in a language that all the villagers could understand. This boosted the songs popularity so much that is spread throughout the Mediterranean right into the heart of Europe.
Early carols were full of wild tales that had very little ties with the actual stories in the Bible, this was mostly the reason why when the Puritans came into power in England the observance of Christmas and the singing of frivolous carols was banned. This state continued until the Victorian age came into being and then once again carols were brought back into society. Professional carolers during this time were known as ‘Waits’, however they did not sing through the whole month of advent, no they would only entertain the crowds on Christmas Eve unfortunately.
During this time Christian church services where carols were sung throughout became increasingly popular, as did the much beloved tradition of singing carols throughout the streets of one’s neighborhood. All in all, Christmas carols have a rather complicated history but these songs are as much a part of Christmas as trees and cookies.
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Modern Christmas carolers
Victorian era family:
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