The Essentials of Music – 101

The History of Christmas Music

Christmas is considered a time for universal love, hope and happiness. In this mood of hope and great joy, the Christians take this season as a time to reflect on their Saviour’s birth, and the hope of salvation brought to all people. According to Erma Bombeck, Christmas is a time for everyone to become a child. Rather than worry themselves sick over last minute shopping and huge expenditures, it ought to be a time when all they care about is the joy of the season.

Besides the Christmas buzz comes the wonderful songs that set the joyful atmosphere. Unlike in the past where Christmas songs would be based on the shepherds’ wait upon the Saviour’s birth, modern-day Christmas songs have changed their themes. Right from Louis Armstrong Christmas music which defined the 20th century back to days when Santa Claus themes ventured into Christmas. Christmas songs of the day are full of Santa Claus tales, featuring his reindeer-driven sledge and the bags full of toys, which he carried as gifts for children.

The stories of Santa and Christmas began at Netherlands and Belgium, through one bishop known as Saint Nicolas. As a favourite of many, he had nicknames such as “Sinterklaas” or “De Goede Sint”, which means “The Friendly Saint”. In his memory, a celebration was held annually on the 6th of December through giving of gifts. At a time when Christianity was undergoing a revolution in the 16th-17th century, protestants changed the celebrations in honour of St.Nicolas to the honour of Jesus Christ, the born Saviour. In this line, the dates for the same changed from December 6th to the 24th.

The title, “Sinterklaas” changed into the famous “Santa Claus” in 1773 in the North American states, under British colonization at the time. This transformation saw Sinterklaas lose his bishop’s clad into the now famous Santa Claus apparel. Nearly half a century later, in 1821, a book was published in New York under the title, “A New-years present, to the little ones from five to twelve”. An old poem entitled, “Old Santeclaus” is tucked away in its pages, depicting him as an old man surprising children with goodies.

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 history of today’s Christmas songs is quite a journey worth recounting.

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Why not learn more about Music?