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Once upon a time, Christmas celebrations wouldn’t have been anything without caroling, and this is exactly what is celebrated on Go Caroling Day on December 20. It’s about nothing else but merrily singing songs from door to door in the spirit of the holiday season. Christmas carols were very popular decades ago, before there was digital entertainment to distract us. As it became more and more uncommon to sing along to carols, Go Caroling Day revives and preserves this classic tradition.
History of Go Caroling Day
It is widely believed that caroling on Christmas started in 1223 at the church of St. Francis of Assisi. He thought that it was merrier to sing songs full of joy and fun during the holidays, instead of solemn hymns. He also started the live nativity scene. Caroling has been around even longer than Christmas itself, as it was a part of many religious observances and practices centuries ago. Christmas carols are essentially a subset of Christmas music, whereas caroling specifically refers to the act of singing this broad category of Christmas songs.
The Christmas carol is also known as a noel — a song or hymn. These have a unique shared characteristic sound, which is based on the musical chord patterns of medieval times. Popular Christmas carols were composed before the 20th century. In modern times, new carols have been written. A few popular Christmas carols are ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’, ‘Jingle Bells’, and ‘Away in a Manger’, and many modern carols are composed by Alfred Burt.
During the Middle Ages, another popular trend similar to caroling started, known as ‘wassailing’. It was a reference to the alcoholic drink called ‘wassail’, and the songs that were sung were vulgar and rude in nature, and therefore viewed by the church as irreligious.
Whether it was gathering around the piano in the living room, or the arrival of carolers on doorsteps in the neighborhood, caroling was a heavily practiced tradition in which people enthusiastically participated.
Christmas caroling has commonly been referred to in old classics. Whether in the story “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens or the film “It’s a Wonderful Life”, it is guaranteed that, at some point, warmly bedecked carolers will arrive, heralding a critical moment or just singing traditional songs loudly for Christmas.
Go Caroling Day timeline
In the Middle Ages, many people do not enjoy carols as they are mostly composed and sung in Latin.
Christmas singing is stopped as the songs and carols have strong linkages to paganism and Catholicism.
After Queen Victoria’s marriage to Prince Albert, Christmas caroling becomes more popular than ever with the introduction of German Yuletide traditions.
During the first world war, a ceasefire was initiated by the Germans on the frontline against the British — by singing Christmas carols.
Go Caroling Day FAQs
What is the point of Christmas caroling?
The idea behind Christmas caroling is to spread the spirit of Christmas by going door-to-door and singing hymns or special carols.
How do you go Christmas caroling?
If you’ve never went caroling before, here is a small guide:
1. Plan early, before everyone’s calendars quickly fill up. Set a time and date that works for everyone.
2. Build your caroling song list, make sure everyone knows the lyrics!
3. Plan out your caroling route and which neighborhoods to cover.
What is the oldest Christmas Carol?
The Christian hymn ‘Jesus Refulsit Omnium’ is frequently cited as the earliest Christmas song in the world.
How To Celebrate Go Caroling Day
Look up lyrics to a new carol
Be it a modern composition, or an old classic, look up the lyrics of a new carol and sing along to it around the house or your neighborhood.
As the name of the holiday suggests, go caroling! Gather your friends and family and get your songbird on. Sing all the Christmas songs you sang growing up or in your school choir. Who knows, you may even get strangers to participate.
Host a carol party
If you have a musical instrument in your house, be it a guitar or a keyboard, host a party at your place and sing along to your favorite carols, just like they used to do in the olden days.
5 Merry Facts About Christmas Carols
The first carols sung thousands of years ago in Europe were pagan songs in the winter solstice.
Carols for all seasons
Carols were originally composed to be sung throughout the seasons, but only the Christmas tradition of singing them has survived.
More fiction than fact
Most carols from the Elizabethan period were loosely based around the Christmas story, but were otherwise untrue. Compared to religious songs, they were just meant to be entertaining.
Before carol singing was a thing, professional carol singers called ‘Waits’ would band together and be conducted by important local leaders of the community.
Elvis released his version of ‘White Christmas’ in the year 1957. The song’s composer Irving Berlin tried to ban it from being played on the radio.
Why We Love Go Caroling Day
Getting into the holiday spirit
We don’t know why this tradition went out of style. Who doesn’t like singing loudly, not to mention with the intention of spreading cheer and joy? This is the perfect day to walk arm-in-arm with friends and celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.
The art of caroling
Carols aren’t just songs to be sung around Christmas time, they are a testimony to great tales in history. Preserving them is like preserving works of art.
Dispelling the winter blues
With the holiday season comes winter blues, and people who are alone on Christmas are just waiting to hear from someone at their doors. That friendly old neighbor of yours who lives alone? Head on over to their doorstep and get singing!
Go Caroling Day dates