Here’s the surprising history behind your favorite Christmas Carols!
What if “The Red-Nosed Reindeer”, Frosty and the “One Horse Open Sleigh” had nothing to do with Christmas?
Singing Christmas songs goes hand in hand with baking Christmas treats, listening our favorite Christmas tales, watching our favorite Christmas movies, and not only.
Like everything around this period of the year, everything has a story.
From songs that have been saved from being erased forever to not really knowing for sure where a song came from, here is the history of a few Christmas Carols you know and sing still today!
Enjoy our Advent Calendar 2022!
🎄🎅🏻 THERE ARE ONLY 23 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS 🎅🏻🎄
It’s been 60 years since Leroy Anderson (1908-1975) wrote “Sleigh Ride,” yet it remains one of our favorite Christmas songs.
Basically it is a Christmas standard and one that is easily recognizable by its upbeat melody, sleigh bells, clip-clopping, whip sound, and horse whinny. And It’s been a hit ever since it was first recorded in 1949 by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra.
The song, also known in modern days as Promenade en traîneau (in French), Schlittenfahrt (in German), Jingling Tingling o Slädfärd på två (in Svedish), Rekiretki (in Suomi) and Slee rit (in Dutch), has even been named the most popular piece of Christmas music in the United States every year between 2009 and 2012, and again in 2015 by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.
And that’s pretty impressive, considering Christmas isn’t even mentioned in the lyrics!
Well…actually Leroy didn’t set out to write a Christmas piece when he wrote ‘Sleigh Ride.’
His intentions were to convey the entire winter season through the imagery of a sleigh ride, much in the way that Mozart did with his piece of the same name, said the composer’s widow Eleanor Anderson.
Despite that, singing “Sleigh Ride”, just as baking Christmas cookies and watching Christmas movies in December, has become synonymous with spreading cheer.
Christmas in July?
Yes. Actually the inspiration for the song didn’t even occur during the winter.
In 1946, Leroy Anderson and his family were in Woodbury, Connecticut staying in a cottage on his wife’s families land. He had been released from active duty in the Army, and housing was in short supply. While staying in the cottage, a July heat wave and drought hit. Anderson began composing several tunes including Sleigh Ride which he envisioned as a musical depiction of winter long ago. He finished the piece about 2 years after his family moved to New York City – in the winter.
The song premiered on May 4, 1948 by the Boston Pops Orchestra at Symphony Hall in Boston.
The orchestral version was first recorded in 1949 by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra.
The original recordings were, in fact, instrumental versions. The lyrics, about riding in a sleigh and other fun wintertime activities, were written by Mitchell Parish in 1950. Like many other Christmas songs including “White Christmas”, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, “Let It Snow”, and “Winter Wonderland”, the words to Sleigh Ride were written by this Jewish lyricist. Mitchell was born to a Jewish family in Lithuania, his family emigrated to the US in 1901 when he was less than a year old and settled in Louisiana before moving to New York City.
“Sleigh Ride” was a hit record on RCA Victor Red Seal, and has become one of the orchestra’s signature songs. The 45 rpm version was originally issued on red vinyl, and the Pops have also recorded the song with John Williams, their conductor from 1979 to 1995, and Keith Lockhart, their current conductor.
The Ronettes recorded a cover of “Sleigh Ride” in 1963 for Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You, which was commercially successful in the United States and featured in various media.
Also world popular American singer and songwriter Gwen Stefani recorded a cover in October 2020 for the reissued deluxe edition of her fourth studio album, You Make It Feel Like Christmas.
In any case ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, has named Sleigh Ride the most popular piece of Christmas music in the US for several years including 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2015, and It beat out other songs like “The Christmas Song”, “Winter Wonderland”, and “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”.
A last fact: sometimes our beloved song ends with carrots.
Sleigh Ride includes a famous horse whinny five bars before the end.
The whinny is produced by a trumpet and, since the effect is near the ending, a joke with a humorous effect is occasionally played on trumpet players and, sometimes, the percussionists.
When they rise for the applause, they are often presented a bunch of carrots in lieu of roses.
🎄🎅🏻 THERE ARE ONLY 23 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS 🎅🏻🎄