Christmas Carols or Christmas Songs?

Last Thursday we went Christmas caroling, and before we started someone asked, “Are we going to sing “Mary, Did You Know?” The response was “That’s not a Christmas Carol.” I was doubtful about the response, and it got me thinking, “What’s the difference between a Christmas Carol and a Christmas Song?

Here’s what I learned:

The first carols were sung in Europe and were actually pagan songs sung during Winter Solstice while people danced in a circle. The word “carol” actually came from the French word “carole” which means “circle dance”.

As time passed, Christmas Carols became popular. They are songs of a religious nature and center around the Nativity.

Christmas songs are secular and include pieces like “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. They focus on things associated with Christmas that have nothing to do with the Nativity and the religious reasons we celebrate Christmas.

Then there are songs that are deemed “Christmas Songs” because radio stations only play them around Christmas time, but are really NOT Christmas Songs, but “Winter Songs” because they focus on things related to winter, not Christmas–songs like “Winter Wonderland” and “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow”.

Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that “Mary, Did You Know?” is definitely a Christmas Carol, and it happens to be my very favorite Christmas Carol.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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