Archive for the ‘Carols’ Category

December 28, 2017

December 28, 2017

While often sung in the lead-up to Christmas, the 12 Days of Christmas actually refers to 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).  That makes December 28 the 4th Day of Christmas, and the ‘True Love’ gifts 4 colly birds (or calling bird).

The song is often sung, but what exactly is a colly bird? According to Peter Armenti, the literature specialist for the Digital Reference Section at the Library of Congress, a ‘colly bird’ is essentially referring to a Black Bird.

As the song’s recipient receives 7 Swans, 6 Geese, 4 Colly Birds, 3 French Hens, 2 Turtle Doves, and a Partridge, here’s hoping they really like birds!

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December 18, 2017

December 18, 2017

Frosty the Snowman was a jolly happy soul.  This happy soul was made popular by the song “Frosty the Snowman”.  This song was written by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson, and performed by Gene Autry and the Cass County Boys.  It saw its first public release on December 14, 1950.  The song quickly grew in popularity, reaching a height of 7th place in the US Pop Singles chart of 1950.  The song has been adapted into several other media, including a popular 1969 television special created by Rankin/Bass Productions.

The song tells the story of a snowman who is brought to life by a magical silk hat.  He spends the day playing with the children who created him, until he has to leave, claiming that “I’ll be back again someday.”  Despite not making any mention of Christmas in the original lyrics, Frosty has become a well-known icon as a Christmas character.

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From the Oshawa Museum’s archival collection

December 17, 2017

December 17, 2017

Did you know that in the 1950s, Boston tried to ban the song I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus?  According to Time Magazine:

Boston church leaders tried to have the song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” banned in the 1950s because they thought it “promoted physical intimacy.” Singer Jimmy Boyd had to fly to Boston and explain to them why it wasn’t obscene.

Fun fact: Jimmy Boyd recorded the song on July 15, 1952 when he was 13 years old.

December 16, 2017

December 16, 2017

According to Time Magazine, the record for the most recorded Christmas song goes to Silent Night, which has 733 copyrighted recordings since 1978.  It was written in 1816 by Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber.

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Carollers in Guy House

December 14, 2017

December 14, 2017

December 14 is Roast Chestnuts Day. I’m sure during this holiday season, you’ve heard the Christmas Song a number of times, with its opening lyrics: Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose.

The Christmas Song was written in 1945 by Bob Wells and Mel Tormé during a hot summer. This song came about in an effort to “stay cool by thinking cool.”  With imagery including Jack Frost, Santa Claus, reindeer, and carol singers, it’s hard not to think of the cool holiday season.

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.

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Kissing Bough hanging in the Henry House hallway

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!

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From the Archival collection of the Oshawa Museum