Christmas | Holiday

8 Unusual Stories Behind Your Favorite Christmas Songs

In the month of December we hear them in stores, on the radio and at your kid's Christmas concert, but have you ever stopped to think about the stories behind your favorite Christmas carols.

While some may seem obvious, the stories surrounding these festive song aren't always.

Here are eight unusual stories about popular Christmas songs, that you didn't know.

1. "Jingle Bells"

"Dashing through the snow, In a one-horse open sleigh, O'er the fields we go, Laughing all the way"

While this is a popular Christmas jingle, this song wasn't written for the holiday at all. Originally written in 1857,  it was entitled “One Horse Open Sleigh,” and was meant for Americans to sing at Thanksgiving.

"Jingle Bells" was also the first song to be sung in space by Apollo 11 astronauts.

2. "12 Days of Christmas"

"On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me,A partridge in a pear tree."

Do you remember trying to memorize the lyrics to this Christmas carol in school? It could be tricky, trying to remember how many "maids a milking" there are.

Originally crafted as a memory game, the most popular version of this song appeared in a children's book in 1780. In the 90s, a Canadian suggested that each of the items represented elements of the Catholic faith, to which he later admitted he made up.

3. "Silent Night"

"Silent Night, Holy Night, All is calm, And all is bright... Sleep in heavenly peace"

This song dates back to 1914 during World War I. On December 24, a cease fire occurred up and down the Western Front. For the one night, the soliders put down their weapons, played football and sang carols. The famous story references English and German troops taking turns singing the song in the trenches.

4. "O Holy Night"

"O holy night the stars are brightly shining, It is the night of our dear Savior's birth, Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth"

This classic Christmas carol also brought about a truce during the Franco-Prussian War. Unlike "Silent Night", this song was actually controversial. It was banned in France after it was discovered that it was written by a Jew, Adolphe Adams, and an atheist socialist, Placide Cappeau.

The song still remained popular and on Christmas Eve in 1871, a French solider was said to have sung the song on the battlefield. A German responded with a song from Martin Luther. Fighting stopped for 24 hours after this.

5. "White Christmas"

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, Just like the ones I used to know, Where the tree tops glisten, And children listen, To hear sleigh bells in the snow"

As one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time, you wouldn't imagine that it was actually about the holidays in California.

This nostalgic melancholy Christmas carol is often used for soldiers who are away from home during the holidays.

However there is a lesser-known version of the song that shows its origin.

"The sun is shining, the grass is green,The orange and palm trees sway.There's never been such a dayin Beverly Hills, L.A.But it's December the twenty-fourth,—And I am longing to be up North"

Bing Crosby ditched this part of the song, and went on to sell 50 million copies.

6. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"

"Have yourself a merry little Christmas, Let your heart be light, From now on your troubles will be out of sight"

This song actually originated from the movie musical, Meet Me in St. Louis starring Judy Garland. The lyrics originally were “Have yourself a Merry little Christmas, It may be your last, Next year we may all be living in the past.” Judy felt that the song was too depressing, so the writers changed it to the more upbeat version that we are familiar with.

7. "The Little Drummer Boy"

"Come, they told me, Pa rum pum pum pum, Our newborn King to see, Pa rum pum pum pum, Our finest gifts we bring, Pa rum pum pum pum, To lay before the King, Pa rum pum pum pum"

An unusual pairing, David Bowie was supposed to appear and sing "The Little Drummer Boy" with Bing Crosby. Last minute producers were told that he hated the song and wanted to sing something else instead.

Writers went and re-tooled the song to include the memorable "Peace on Earth" counter melody. This one-off pairing was at first forgetable about has since become a hit of its own.

8. "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town"

"You better watch out, You better not cry, Better not pout, I'm telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town"

This happy Christmas song was actually written out of deep despair. It almost didn't get written at all. In 1934, Haven Gillespie had just come from his brother's funeral when he met with his publisher who urged him to write a Christmas song.

On his way home, he reflected on his youth with his brother, and that's when the lyrics came to him.

His song quickly became a hit, but every time he heard it he became sad.

What is your favorite Christmas carol?

Source: Oddee