December 3, 2016

The oldest secular Christmas song is Jingle Bells.  It was written in 1857 by James Pierpont, originally titled One Horse Open Sleigh and was written for Thanksgiving.

Did you know that Jingle Bells is also the first song to be transmitted from outer space? It was December 16, 1965 when astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra sang Jingle Bells on board Gemini 6.  They smuggled bells and a harmonica on the space ship with them to accompany the song!  Stafford and Schirra later donated the harmonica and bells to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Space & Aeronautics in Washington DC, where they now sit on display.

All together now… Dashing through the snow, in a one horse open sleigh!


From the Archival collection of the Oshawa Museum



  1. 1

    And “the name of the horse in the song”, is not Bobtail. The word in the song is “bobtails”, and refers to any/all horses (used to pull sleighs) which had had the long hair of their tails cut off.
    Next, some fool will be telling me that one of Santa’s reindeer is ‘Donner’, rather than the German ‘Donder’ (thunder) which goes with ‘Blitzen (lightning).’ 😯 😦

    • Thanks for the comment, and thanks for reading! Through reading and researching for this blog, we’ve also seen ‘Blitzen’s’ name spelt as ‘Blixem!’ It’s interesting to see how words and traditions have changed through the years.

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