In Good Company: Christmas Caroling

“It’s like trick-or-treating… except no candy, add singing.”

This was my initial response to MaiTai when I told him we were going caroling and he said he didn’t know what that was.

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I could’ve told him about few other things, like the history of caroling. Instead I saved it for posterity in written form (scroll to the bottom for some background on caroling practices if interested).

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Tonight we joined some friends for MaiTai’s first caroling experience. The hostess prepped us with elf hats, electric candles and tealights to light our way (plastic for the kids and glass for the adults), jingle bells, holiday finger foods, and treated us to hot cocoa.

Snow was dearly missed in setting the winter scene, but I’ve learned it’s hard to come by in Texas. A few of us did grumble about the nip on our cheeks in the 55 degree evening air, though (I’ve been in this state way too long!).

I remember singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” — easy enough for the kids to remember (and, uh, me with my loose interpretation of lyrics). MaiTai said “Jingle Bells” was his favorite Christmas tune of those we sang.

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Not many people were home when we embarked on our neighborhood mission of melody (were kids on holiday break already? Did everyone go out gift shopping? Was there a block party happening we weren’t invited to?).

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Still, those we reached (ambushed in some cases) seemed grateful for our attempt at “keeping the Christmas spirit alive,” if I may quote one nice man.

Kids’ group photo on the stairs! Minus MaiTai because he’s only a ham for solo shoots.

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Did You Know?

Originally carols were pagan music sung on the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice. The word ‘carol’ was originally defined as ‘to dance to something’ and carols were written and sung during all seasons, though in modern times caroling is normally only associated with Christmas.

When early Christians took over a slew of pagan traditions, they began to adapt the carols for their followers by including hymnal verses.

When the Puritans gained power in England by 1647, public caroling was halted and people only sang in secret.

By the Victorian era, carols that had been quietly passed down through families landed in the hands (throats?) of official carolers called ‘Waits’ who were led by council leaders and were the only people with the power to collect money from the public. They would only sing on Christmas Eve (‘watchnight’ or ‘waitnight’).

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Find out more about carols:

Caroling With Kids

Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”

Christmas Carols list & lyrics

List of Carols organized by its original language

Sing-a-Long Christmas Carols

The History of Christmas Carols

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