Christmas songs are certainly some of the fondest memories most of us have from our childhood. As children, we never question these things, we just learn them and grow to love them. The New Testament pretends that the first Christmas chant dates from Jesus’ birth. That is well over 2,000 years ago, can you imagine? However, it was because of the influence of Saint Francis of Assisi that Christmas songs have been published in a vernacular language and that their number increased.
Coming from Italy, Christmas songs arrived in England where they have been associated with dances and became the popular Christmas carols. Over the centuries, the tradition changed: carolers also sang to raise funds for charity, receive gifts or a wassail bowl. Since one hundred years, American culture has grown by the addition of Christmas carols from various parts of the world.
In 1447, Johannes Gutenberg invented the mechanical printing press; which enabled publishers to print things in a very short period of time. And thus the words and lyrics to the Christmas carols were copied and distributed all over the countries; which contributed to their great popularity.
During these centuries, Christianity was the biggest part of everyone’s life and thus, Christmas was also really important. Sadly, the year 1649, Cromwell banned all Catholic customs in England, including Christmas. When in 1661 Charles II restored these traditions, singing carols became one of the most popular traditions.
Most of the most famous Christmas carols have been written from the mid-18th to the early 19th centuries and are still popular today. In 1742 there was a fundraiser in Ireland where George Frederich Handel performed the well known “Messiah” carol.
Actually “Silent Night” has been written in 1818 by the Austrian priest Father Joseph Mohr and its original title was “Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht”. The organ of his church had broken and he needed to write a song that could be accompanied by a guitar instead of an organ and then, he wrote this marvellous Christmas carol.
It is easier today to make a Christmas carol than it used to be centuries ago: when the holiday season arrives, artists as well as Hollywood produce their Christmas hymn. But we always have a preference for the atmosphere and the sounds of the old Christmas songs. Mankind tends to stick to traditions and quite honestly, a new carol that might be written could never replace the oldies such as Silent Night or The Little Drummer Boy. Although the number of Christmas songs we listen to is really large, almost none of them is a recent one.
If you want to successfully celebrate the Christmas season, gather your relatives and friends around the tree and sing those marvellous carols.