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 9 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS 🎅🏻🎄
In terms of lyrics, one of the holiday favourite It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas has all the essential ingredients of the best Christmas songs: its lyrics reference glistening snow, chiming bells, children’s toys, Christmas carols, a holly wreath and an abundance of candy. But we shouldn’t forget the warm, infectious, melody that wraps it all up in a warm Christmassy embrace – the key to any successful seasonal song.
Modern-day crooner Michael Bublé in 2011 revived the tune, making sure it would remain a Christmas staple for evermore.
“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” was written in 1951 by American flutist, composer, conductor, musical arranger, bandleader, playwright, and writer Meredith Willson (May 18, 1902 – June 15, 1984), and it was originally titled “It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas”.
The highly regarded professional songwriter from Mason City, Iowa, who was born Robert Reiniger Meredith Willson, best known as the author of the 1957 Broadway musical The Music Man (which included the popular song Seventy-Six Trombones), he was a talented flute and piccolo player who began his career as a member of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra before breaking into the movie world and writing the Academy Award-nominated score for The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 satire of fascism.
The song has been recorded by many artists, but was a hit for the Italian American crooner Perry Como and The Fontane Sisters with Mitchell Ayres & His Orchestra on September 18, 1951, and released on RCA Victor as 47-4314 (45 rpm) and 20-4314 (78 rpm).
Also Bing Crosby recorded a version on October 1, 1951, which was also widely played.
Since then, Willson’s Christmas cracker has been covered over 200 times, with Johnny Mathis, Dionne Warwick and Harry Connick, Jr, among the distinguished names who have put their mark on it.
A popular belief in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, holds that Willson wrote the song while staying in Yarmouth’s Grand Hotel. In fact the song refers to a “tree in the Grand Hotel, one in the park as well…”, where the park being Frost Park, directly across the road from the Grand Hotel, which still operates in a newer building on the same site as the old hotel.
It also makes mention of the five and ten which was a store operating in Yarmouth at the time.
A story that has long circulated within the town is that Meredith Willson visited Yarmouth sometime in the late 40s. Staff working at the hotel there during that period recalled the arrival of a “distinguished gentleman” who was a professional songwriter who spent some time holed up in his room composing.
Though they had no proof that this was, indeed, Willson, when some of the town’s residents heard Perry Como’s recording of It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas, rumours about the song’s origin spread like wildfire in the small community.
However, It is also possible that the “Grand Hotel” Willson mentions in the song was inspired by the Historic Park Inn Hotel in his hometown of Mason City, Iowa. The Park Inn Hotel is the last remaining hotel in the world designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and is situated in downtown Mason City overlooking central park.
Either way Meredith Willson incorporated the song into his 1963 Broadway musical Here’s Love, where it is sung in counterpoint to the newly composed song “Pine Cones and Holly Berries”.
Johnny Mathis recorded the song for his 1986 album Christmas Eve with Johnny Mathis, and this version gained popularity after its inclusion in the film Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Gradually, this recording began to receive wide radio airplay, and for the past several years this version has been a Top 10 Christmas hit.
Back to its most beloved version, Perry Como and The Fontane Sisters with Mitchell Ayres & His Orchestra released their cover of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” on September 18, 1951, becoming one of the biggest versions of the song, which is still widely played today, with over 264 million streams on Spotify as of December 15th, 2022!
🎄🎅🏻 THERE ARE ONLY 9 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS 🎅🏻🎄