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The History of Christmas Music

All around the world, Christmas is seen as a time to share in love, joy and hope. For those rooted in the Christian faith, they consider this as a time to look back on the time their Saviour was born and would then bring salvation to all mankind. As Erma Bombeck chimed in her two coins on Christmas, she described it as a time to forget all of one’s adult routines and become a child for once. Although the Christmas time has been largely characterized by stressful last-minute shopping, the real spirit of Christmas ought to be one of reckless joy.

Other than the hectic Christmas activities, the Christmas Carols make the season worth celebrating. Between the ancient Saviour’s birth announcement Bible story and the current themes dominating Christmas music stands a huge difference. The historic twist in themes around Christian music dates all the way from Louis Armstrong’s Christmas music of the 20th century to the days when tales of Santa Claus began, almost 4 centuries earlier. Santa Claus features most of modern-day Christmas songs which describe him carrying a bag full of gift-toys while riding his reindeer sleigh.

The Santa Claus Christmas songs sprung from Netherlands and Belgium, with one Saint Nicolas. As a favourite of many, he had nicknames such as “Sinterklaas” or “De Goede Sint”, which means “The Friendly Saint”. In commemoration of the friendly saint, celebrations would be held every year on December 6th, whereby people would give gifts to one another. During the 16th to 17th century period, protestant Christians changed the gift bringing culture and based it on the born Saviour, “ChristKindl”. With this effect, the date was changed to the 24th of December.

The origin of the renown “Santa Claus” title from “Sinterklaas” sprung from the North American British colonies. Following this title change was the change in apparel from that of a bishop to the famous red and white fluffy suit. Close to fifty years later, a book titled, “A New Year’s present, to the little ones from five to twelve” was published in 1821 in New York. Amidst its contents is a poem dubbed, “Old Santeclaus”, which describes an old man bringing gifts to children while riding on a reindeer sleigh.

St. Nick is also featured in another poem entitled, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, which many have known as “The Night before Christmas”. The poem highlights the common traits known about Santa which include riding on a sleigh and landing on roofs. Santa then finds a way into the house and into the children’s room through the house chimney with his bag full of toys. St. Nick is depicted as a well-fed, ever-joyful old guy with a round belly that resembled wobbling jelly in a bowl whenever he laughed.

The tale behind most of today’s Christmas songs is indeed worth telling.

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