In the 1800's, it became fashionable to create a nativity scene as part of a family's Christmas celebration. Over the years, the scenes became more elaborate, often featuring not only the manger, but a whole village. When electric toy trains came on the market at the beginning of the twentieth century, they were a natural fit and families started to lay the train track around the Christmas tree, a tradition that continues to this day. This song re-imagines the Christmas train, the way a child might, as a larger-than-life, magical ride for Santa and all his toys for the boys and girls of the world. Toot Toot!
When it comes to the Christmas story of the three wise men, the quintessential song is We Three Kings. Can you think of any others? While there are dozens of songs about other aspects of the Christmas story, there was room for more about these travellers from the East. Traditional images of the wise men often depict them riding camels and although they are mostly pictured as just three figures, it's unlikely that noble men would be travelling alone. It's probable that they travelled as a caravan with family and servants. The song takes a light-hearted approach to the story of this ancient road trip.
The mid-twentieth century was a golden era for new Christmas classics made popular by the burgeoning American recording industry. Crooners like Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole brought us White Christmas and The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) which are now treasured standards. Duets also became popular at the time. Christmas Cheer captures the fun feel of songs like the Dean Martin and Martina McBride classic, Baby It's Cold Outside.
The lyrics of this song speak for themselves as they take you down memory lane to Christmas past. This song wraps you in a comfy blanket of nostalgia as it recounts the special moments of the Christmas season. From the simplicity of a black and white television to the crowded joy of extended family around the Christmas table to the traditional felling of the Christmas tree, the song reflects on what makes Christmas a meaningful and touching time of year.
Traditionally, toboggans were used by the indigenous people of Northern Canada to transport people and goods across the snow during the long winter months. Settlers used these simple sleds as well when they first came to the new world, and they soon learned that they could be used for recreation as well as transport. Tobogganing gained in popularity during the mid-eighteen hundreds and is still very much a part of North American winter sport. Toboggan takes us on a fun-filled, musical ride!
Placing a candle in the window at Christmas comes to us from Irish tradition. It is a symbol of welcome that goes back to the original story of Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay in Bethlehem. The candle lets travellers know that they will be welcomed at the table. The tradition carried over to early American practice when the candle sometimes indicated that a family member was away. The candle was placed as a beacon for the family member to find their way home again.
Like Old School Christmas, this song plays with nostalgia for the traditional Christmas. The difference is that this song puts the nostalgic scene squarely in the present. You don't need to harken back to Christmas past if that's still how you're experiencing it. The song celebrates all the traditions we continue to practice: hanging stockings, making hot cocoa, playing in the snow, drinking egg nog, and gathering with family and friends around the table to share a feast. Let's remember that Christmas is not just a thing of yesteryear, but something to celebrate in the here and now.
The loss of innocence is a theme as old as literature. This song reminds us that, when life feels overwhelming, we might be able to find solace by drawing on the warm memories of Christmas from childhood. One of the greatest memory triggers is the sense of smell and nothing smells quite like the wonderful aroma of a freshly cut Christmas tree brought into the house. The tree becomes another member of the family as it acts as a beacon with its decorative lights and a guardian of the gifts that lay beneath. In the search for reconnection, the Evergreen waits to welcome you home.
When things are bad, sometimes the only way to start to feel better again is to sing the blues. The unfortunate character in this song faces tight times as the Christmas season approaches. He's out of money and feels downhearted as he sees the rest of his world preparing to celebrate the season. Christmas can easily accentuate the pressures of poverty and can lead to depression. The magic of the blues is that you feel better when you share your troubles. Sharing is also part of the magic of Christmas as embodied by the figure of Santa Claus sharing gifts with the world. That's why Christmas is not only the biggest shopping time of year, but the biggest time of year for charitable donations as well.
The Christmas tradition of displaying the vibrant reds and greens of the poinsettia is under represented in song. There are plenty of Christmas tunes about holly, ivy and mistletoe, and even the Christmas Tree, but not much about Mexico's Flor De Nochebuena. This song recounts the tale of Pepita, a poor Mexican girl, who brings a bouquet of roadside weeds to the Christmas altar as an offering and, to the amazement of the conjuration, sees the dull weeds turn bright red and beautiful. The flowers are called Poinsettia after the American ambassador to Mexico who brought the plant to America in the 1800s, but in Mexico it is know as the flower of the Holy Night: La Flor De Nochebuena.
Despite religion's penchant to venerate Mary and Joseph, the bible stories of the birth of Christ go to great lengths to demonstrate that Mary and Joseph were not special. They weren't royalty. They weren't powerful or rich. They were regular, everyday people: a simple carpenter with a young bride-to-be. In Bethlehem, the best accommodation they could find was a barn. The idea that God chose this unassuming couple to be the earthly parents for His child was a way of saying that God's love is for anybody and everybody. The light of a star can shine on you, too.
There was a time when the sun would never set on the British Empire. That cannot be said today about Great Britain, but it holds true for the Christian family, as it stretches throughout the many nations, cultures and languages of the globe. The twenty-two languages featured in this song serve as a reminder that Christmas is celebrated around the world. Their is nothing more special, more joyous, more to be celebrated than the birth of a child and Christmas allows us all to rejoice and feel renewed hope in the newness of life. This song reminds us that it's okay to say: Merry Christmas!