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8# We Wish You a Merry Christmas…with no more figgy pudding

4 min read

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!

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🎄🎅🏻 THERE ARE ONLY 17 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS 🎅🏻🎄

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Although figgy pudding may have fallen out of fashion, the carol “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” is still going strong.
Actually It dates back to the 16th century, but no one knows who actually wrote it, but It truly embodies the caroling spirit, including the traditions “of showering gifts house to house and singing Christmas songs as they went.”

The carol has quite a colorful history, reflecting on the witty carolers of the Victorian era. It is also connected to the regeneration of the tradition known as “caroling,” a practice that was banned in the churches during the Middle Ages. The Protestant Oliver Cromwell had played a key in this, banning all Christmas carols between the period of 1647-1660. The church-going public collaborated in a desperate attempt to save the traditional songs – going from door to door and performing them in the Victorian era.
Not by chance, It was sung by children in Victorian times as they went about performing carols door to door on Christmas Eve, hoping for sweet rewards.
In the West Country of England, wealthy people of the community traditionally gave Christmas treats to visiting carolers on Christmas Eve.

And what about figgy pudding?
Sometimes they’d cook them this treat, which was a dessert made from dried fruit (figs, raisins and/or plums) together with butter, sugar, eggs, milk, chopped apples, lemon juice and rind, nuts, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. After mixing all the ingredients, it then required five hours of steaming.
Figgy pudding was a precursor to the modern-day Christmas pudding, but not as rich, while its American equivalent may be a holiday fruit cake.
And the second verse refers to this:

“Oh, bring us some figgy pudding,
Oh, bring us some figgy pudding,
Oh, bring us some figgy pudding,
And bring it right here”

In any case, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” was popularized in the 1930s as a result of an arrangement by the Bristol-based composer, conductor and organist Arthur Warrell (1883-1939), who arranged the carol for the University of Bristol Madrigal Singers, and performed it with them in concert on December 6, 1935.
Bing Crosby introduced the carol to many across the Atlantic when he recorded it for the 1963 album I Wish You a Merry Christmas, while more folk-friendly version was recorded by John Denver on his 1979 collaborative album with the Muppets.

A related verse, dating from the 1830s, runs:
“We wish you a merry Christmas
And a happy new year;
A pocket full of money,
And a cellar full of beer.”

Or “a pantryful of good roast-beef,
And barrels full of beer”.

It was sung by “mummers”, townsfolk who would go about singing from door to door to request gifts. After they are allowed in and perform a play, the boys are served beer by the farmer’s maid.
Various sources place this version of the song in different parts of England during the nineteenth century.

Several versions survived into the twentieth century and were recorded by folk song collectors in England, and use completely different tunes to the now famous West Country variant.

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🎄🎅🏻 THERE ARE ONLY 17 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS 🎅🏻🎄

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MORE STORIES
🎄 ADVENT CALENDAR 2018
🎄 ADVENT CALENDAR 2019
🎄 ADVENT CALENDAR 2020
🎄 ADVENT CALENDAR 2021

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