Holiday Music And Its History

Holiday Music is primarily confined to the Christmas season, at which time classics like “White Christmas” make their annual return to radio playlists and choir songbooks; in the strictest sense, however, it’s music typically heard in celebration of a given Holiday Music event, and generally not heard again until that event comes around a year later. Examples include novelty hits like Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s “Monster Mash,” a staple each Halloween, or even the many patriotic tunes and marches that resurface each Independence Day.


Music associated with Christmas is thought to have its origins in 4th-century Rome, in Latin-language hymns such as Veni redemptor Gentium. By the 13th century, under the influence of Francis of Assisi, the tradition of popular Christmas songs in regional native languages developed. Christmas carols in the English language first appear in a 1426 work of John Awdlay, an English chaplain, who lists twenty-five “caroles of Christmas”, probably sung by groups of ‘wassailers’ who would travel from house to house.


Holiday Music comprises a variety of genres of music on a variety of topics, religious and otherwise, regularly performed or heard around the Christmas season. Christmas carols remain a large part of the popular Christmas song canon, with numerous titles being added in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s in the United States. Subject matter ranges from the nativity of Jesus Christ to gift-giving and merrymaking, to mythical figures surrounding the holidays such as Santa Claus and his elves. Many songs simply have a winter or seasonal theme or have been adopted into the canon for other reasons.