You better watch out. You better not cry. Better not pout. I’m telling you why Santa Claus is coming to town.… Yo! Already in gaiety ahead of Christmas eh? Are you planning to celebrate this gleeful season with your favourite christmas carols? What do they mean to you? What makes you hum them? Is it your celebratory mood or story behind the song? Is it your yearly tradition? As a child don’t you remember singing carols in school and your teacher making you rehearse the lyrics and tune well in advance of Christmas celebration. They are nostalgic as many of us associate them with our childhood.
‘Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it glows.’
happens to be popular amongst many carol lovers as metaphorically it tells one to rejoice in one’s uniqueness and not pay heed to criticisms. Santa Claus chose Rudolph to guide his sleigh owing to its eccentric nose. It is a carol with humor, frolic and moral.
“It is fun to know the meaning behind christmas carols and their significance with Lord Jesus. We have all sung the fun-filled and zany lyrics to the Twelve Days of Christmas. The roots of this carol go back to that desolate Puritan era in England when English Catholics were not allowed to openly practice their faith.” says Andrea Simon, a pious Bengaluru pentacostal.
That rings a bell. The Twelve Days of Christmas was actually penned as a catechism song for young Catholics to learn the fundamentals of faith. The True Love in the song stands for God and the various gifts He offers to believers. The partridge in the pear tree is very symbolic as well. Mother partridges act as decoys to lead predators away from their young. So, in the carol, the partridge represents Jesus.
“Two turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments; Three French hens are the three eternal virtues, faith, hope and love; Four calling birds are the four Gospels ; Five gold rings are the first five books of the Old Testament which give the story of creation and man’s fall into sin.” She adds as she recounts some of the other symbolic images in this carol.
Once you know the story behind the Twelve Days of Christmas, you will sing it with more meaning onto your lyrics. Carols as such are revered, respected and loved by everyone irrespective of their religion. The current generation gets to enjoy the modernized version of these carols. The DJs are very artistic in compiling all the popular carols and lending a credible remix version to them. One cannot dispute modern compositions and they too convey meaning of the season. It is just that the tune of carols are revamped every year ala mode of the youth.
If we trace the history of ‘carol’, the word comes from the French word carole, meaning circle dance, or song of praise and joy. The interesting fact is that the singing of carols did not originate with Christianity, but with the pagan practice of celebrating all the seasons. Later Christians claimed celebrating the winter season with carols to pay homage to Jesus.
It is a fact that carols do not just talk of songs but they do show thousands of years of Christian history. St. Francis of Assisi invoked an interest in the singing of carols. He started putting on musical plays in which majority of the songs were written in native dialect of the commoners. Many of these carols were not scriptural rather they were light-hearted stories. They were sung by travelling minstrels and changed from town to town.
The tradition of carol singing which had disappeared from church services in the 17th century briefly could not be silenced for a long time. They were revived by Christmas music lovers and spread throughout Europe.
History tells us that christmas carols were not just songs they actually served as a truce between opponents in war. On Christmas Eve in December of 1914, the British then began hearing a few German soldiers singing a Christmas carol. It was soon picked up all along the German line as other soldiers joined in harmonizing.
The words heard were: “Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!”
British troops immediately recognized the melody as “Silent Night, Holy Night” and began singing, in English, along with the Germans. The singing of Silent Night quickly neutralized all hostilities on both sides. One by one, British and German soldiers began laying down their weapons to venture into “no man’s land,” a small patch of bombed out earth between the two sides. So many soldiers on both sides ventured out that superior officers were prevented from objecting. An undeclared truce had erupted and peace had broken out.
Apart from bearing historical significance, christmas carols have always amused its singers. All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth… One of the funniest carols ever. That is a carol definitely to be sung by all those kids whose incisors have fallen out making them highly conscious.
Music is everyone’s favourite indulgence. But christmas carol is one’s childhood friend, jocular buddy and a mood pepping agent to welcome the upcoming new year. It puts one in the ever-vibrant festive mood.
No matter what style of music a person may rejoice the rest of the year, the traditional ‘Christmas Carol’ supersedes the musical preferences and barriers. It is universally recognized as the most beloved music of many people; of all times.
Caroling is a blithesome tradition and one that should be whole-heartedly encouraged. Bring some of the jolly spirit of the winter season to your neighborhood and host a caroling party!