Europe as usual, is the origin for many American traditions. This is the case for Christmas Carols. Have you ever thought when, where and why they originated? Read this and then turn it into a great holiday bed time story for your children!
Around the year 100 A.C., Early Christians started taking over pagan celebrations such as the solstice, where people sang songs as they danced around in circles. “Carols” mean to dance to something with joy. Therefore, a Roman Bishop said that a song called “Angel’s Hymn” should be sung at a Christmas service in Rome, and that’s where Christmas carols began.
Some hundred years after however, a famous Christmas Hymn was written by Comas of Jerusalem, in 760, for the Greek Orthodox Church. This caused many people all over Europe start composing Christmas carols.
Then, in 1223, St. Francis of Assisi started creating Nativity Plays in Italy. The people in the plays actually sang songs that told the story. Sometimes, the choruses of these new carols were in Latin (they used to all be sung and written in Latin), but normally they were all now sung in the local language, so that the people watching the play could understand and join in!
Eventually, the new carols spread to France, Spain, Germany and other European countries. In 1647 however, when the Puritans came to power in England, the celebration of Christmas and the singing of carols dwindled. Carols however, were still sung in secret, and managed to remain unsung until the Victorian times, when two mean collected old Christmas music from villages all over England.
This led to the beginning of official carol singers called “Waits”. These were bands of people led by important local leaders. These “waits” were called so because they mainly sang on Christmas Eve because of the shepherds that were watching their sheep when the angels appeared to them, which is when the Christmas celebrations began.
At this time, many choirs and orchestras were getting started around England and people really wanted Christmas songs to sing, so carols became popular again! Many new carols, such as “Good King Wenceslas“, were also written in this period.
Soon enough, new carols were created and became popular.So did the custom of singing carols in the streets and by Christmas trees. Both of which are still very popular today. Below is a long video of children’s Christmas carols for you to enjoy. Here is the link to a more advanced Christmas carols quiz for your older children to work on!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all! Happy Holidays!