Holiday songs add spice to season

Published 12:49 am Saturday, December 6, 2008

As the famous Christmas song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

This is a sentiment I agree with very much. I have always been a lover of the Christmas season, with its bright and colorful decorations and delicious snacks like eggnog and candy canes. But the one part of the holidays I enjoy most of all is the music.

I have always liked to sing, and the Christmas season is chock-full of wonderful, sing-a-long-able songs. I have always noticed that even people who aren’t normally singers can’t help but get into the Christmas spirit and join in with a rousing Christmas carol or two. (Of course, when you’re singing with a dozen other people, it can help to drown out your own singing.)

One of the most wonderful things about the soundtrack of December is the variety of music you can sing along to. If you’re a traditionalist, you have “Silent Night” and “Adeste Fideles.” If you prefer the oldies, you can rock along to Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” or Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.” Even modern times have introduced some wonderful new songs to the Christmas canon, like Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and Newsong’s “The Christmas Shoes.”

Christmas songs can be instructive, as well.

Did you know that “wassail” is a hot-spiced punch similar to cider? The word itself comes from an Anglo-Saxon phrase meaning, “be healthy,” a perfect sentiment for the Christmas (and flu) season. Now you know what it means in the lyrics of the Christmas carol that goes, “Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green…”

Surely we all love to sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” — especially that “five golden rings!” line. A little bit of research shows that the reason the song mentions 12 days of Christmas is because, in olden times, there really were 12 days celebrated in the Christmas season. The season started with Dec. 25, and continued all the way until Jan. 6, the Epiphany of the Lord.

Another wonderful thing about Christmas carols is their simple melodies — anyone from a little child to a grandmother can join in infectious tunes like “Jingle Bells” or “Deck the Halls.” But, again, if you’re looking for something a little more complex, there’s always “Angels We Have Heard on High” or “O! Holy Night.”

And even if you don’t celebrate the Christmas season, you can still join in the secular favorites like “Winter Wonderland” or “Home for the Holidays.”

No matter your frame of mood, there’s certain to be a Christmas song to lift your spirits.