Archive for the ‘Carols’ Category

December 22, 2016

December 22, 2016

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe, help to make the season bright! The word “mistletoe” derives from an Anglo-Saxon phrase meaning dung on a twig.  This stems from the fact that their seeds were often spread through the droppings of birds. The custom of kissing underneath mistletoe started in Victorian England, it traditionally, it was bad luck to refuse such a kiss.

Kissing boughs differ from mistletoe in appearance, but traditionally they had the same superstitions surrounding it. Although popular in England, were not present in Ontario during the 19th century.

P1050028

Kissing Bough hanging in the Henry House hallway

Advertisements

December 16, 2016

December 16, 2016

With nine days until Christmas, days are often filled with songs about Santa, reindeer, Jesus’s birth, and winter wonderlands.  There are a number of carols with religious themes, like Angels We Have Heard On High, Away In A Manger, and O Holy Night, but then there are songs that are slightly more irreverent.

One such novelty song is All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.  In 1944, a man named Donald Yetter Gardner was teaching music at public schools in Smithtown, New York. He asked his second grade class what they wanted for Christmas, and noticed that almost all of the students had at least one front tooth missing as they answered in a lisp. He wrote the song in 30 minutes.

Let’s hope Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer has a less anecdotal origin!


From Wikipedia.

December 14, 2016

December 14, 2016

 

Canada’s oldest Christmas song is Huron Carol, believed to be written around 1642 by the French Jesuit missionary  Jean de Brébeuf at St. Marie Among the Hurons, near current day Midland, Ontario.  It was originally written in the Huron language, and the English version, “‘Twas in the moon of wintertime,” was written by Jesse Edgar Middleton in 1926. The tune is related to a 16th-century French song, “Une jeune pucelle.”

December 12, 2016

December 12, 2016

The twelve days in the carol “The 12 Days of Christmas” are the twelve days starting Christmas day, or in some traditions, the day after Christmas (December 26) to the day before Epiphany, or the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6, or the Twelfth Day).  The popular carol was first published in 1790, but the version we are familiar with today was arranged in 1909 by English composer Frederic Austin, based on a traditional folk melody.

The grand gifts given by ‘my true love’ are:
12 Drummers Drumming
11 Pipers Piping
10 Lords-a-Leaping
9 Ladies Dancing
8 Maids-a-Milking
7 Swans-a-Swimming
6 Geese-a-Laying
5 Gold Rings
4 Colly Birds
3 French Hen
2 Turtle Doves
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

This carol is a cumulative song, meaning that each verse is built on top of the previous verses.  If all of the gifts were added up, cumulatively, there would be 364 gifts, a gift for almost every day of the year.

 

December 3, 2016

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!

File012

From the Archival collection of the Oshawa Museum

December 20, 2015

December 20, 2015

Up on the Rooftop

“Up on the rooftop, reindeer pause; out jumps good old Santa Claus”

And so opens the second oldest secular Christmas song, second only to Jingle Bells.  It is considered the oldest yuletide song as Jingle Bells, today associated with Christmas, was originally written as a Thanksgiving song.

This familiar carol was written in 1864 by Benjamin Hanby, clearly influenced by the myths and legends popularized by Clement C. Moore in his poem A Visit From St. Nicholas.

The first stanza and chorus are well known:

Up on the housetop reindeer pause,
Out jumps Good Old Santa Claus
Down through the chimney with lots of toys
All for the little ones, Christmas joys

Ho, ho ho! Who wouldn’t go? Ho, ho ho! Who wouldn’t go?
Up on the housetop, click, click, click
Down through the chimney with old Saint Nick

From the Oshawa Community Archives Collection

From the Oshawa Community Archives Collection

December 19, 2015

December 19, 2015

Christmas, Ghosts, and Carols

In today’s culture, the time for ghosts and spirits is long past, with Halloween taking place almost two months ago, but in the Victorian era, Christmas was the time to tell ghost stories, and one of the most prolific is still told today.

“Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.”

This is the opening to Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol, and immediately, the reader is hooked with intrigue! Through the course of this story, Ebeneezer Scrooge is visited by four spirits and rediscovers his love for and appreciation of Christmas and the holidays.

Illustration from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol

Illustration from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

Do you read A Christmas Carol during the holiday season? How about watching one of the many versions on film? Which is your favourite?

December 15, 2015

December 15, 2015

Reindeer and Old Saint Nick

According to lore, Santa is able to deliver presents to children around the world with help from his magic flying reindeer.  There are nine that we know of and that are named.

In 1823, Clement C. Moore provided the names of eight of those reindeer.  Can you name them?

In 1939, Robert L. May shed light on the name of the ninth reindeer and his infamous red nose!  Can you name him?

From the Oshawa Community Archives

From the Oshawa Community Archives


 

 

*In case you didn’t know, they are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen, and Rudolph.  The origin of flying reindeer is believed to be the imagination of Moore, and May expanded on the myth when he wrote Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

 

December 12, 2015

December 12, 2015

One Horse Open Sleigh

During the winter months of the Victorian age the easiest form of transportation would have been by sleigh. This mode of travel was associated with the winter months and thus worked its way into several well-known Christmas carols.
Jingle Bells
Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way

Bells on bobtail ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight!

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way.
Oh! what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

This song was written by James Lord Pierpont (1822–1893) and published under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh” in the autumn of 1857.

From the Oshawa Community Archives

From the Oshawa Community Archives

December 2, 2014

December 2, 2014

O Holy Night, The stars are brightly shining! A world favourite Christmas Carol, it was written in France and was originally called “Cantique de Noel.” It was written in the year 1847 by Adolphe Adam. It was written along with a poem by Placide Cappeau, that begins like this; Midnight, Christians, it is the solemn hour, When God as a man descended onto us, To erase the stain of original sin.

File655