Monday, December 16, 2013

Musings on Christmas Songs

With the Christmas season upon us, it is impossible to go anywhere without being inundated with Christmas songs.  I have also noticed that different places will play a different selection of Christmas songs which got me thinking that most Christmas songs can be placed into one of four basic categories.

1 – Jesus Songs
These are the songs about Jesus and His birth.  This includes the classic Christmas carols like “Away in a Manger” or “Angels We Have Heard on High” as well as some of the more recent Christmas songs like “Mary, Did You Know?” or “Welcome to Our World.”  This category also includes religious Christmas songs that don’t mention Jesus directly, such as “Ding Dong Merrily on High.”

2 – Santa Claus Songs
These are songs about Santa Claus.  This includes songs that are directly about Santa like “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” or “Hooray for Santy Claus” as well as the songs more tangentially related to Santa Clause like “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”  This category also includes songs that are about Christmas-y characters like “Frosty the Snowman” or the songs from How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  They may have nothing to do with Santa, but they are very similar in tone to the ones specifically about Santa.  When in doubt, if the song is aimed at kids, it belongs in this category.

[Edit: December 17
This category also includes songs that deal with magical occurrences during the Christmas season.]

3 – Christmas Season Songs
These are songs about celebrating the Christmas season.  This includes songs like “White Christmas,” “Silver Bells,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”  Common themes of these songs include giving gifts, spending time with loved ones, and wishing good will to our fellow man.  This is also a bit of a catch-all category in that if the Christmas song in question doesn’t really fit with the other three then it goes in here.

4 – Winter Songs
These are songs that are considered Christmas songs but really have nothing to do with Christmas but are instead about the weather around Christmastime as experienced in the states north of the Mason-Dixon line.  This includes songs like “Jingle Bells” and “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.”  I go back and forth as to whether these songs really form a category all their own or if they are really a very large subset of the Christmas Season songs.

There are some songs that could be considered hybrids of two categories.  “The Christmas Shoes” mentions Jesus specifically, and is written from a Christian perspective, so that would put it in with the Jesus Songs, but the story of the song is about buying presents and showing goodwill to your fellow man, which puts it squarely in with the Christmas Season Songs.  “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” is a fun one because the category it belongs in depends on whose perspective we’re using.  If we’re going by the perspective of the child singing the song, it’s a Santa Claus song since it’s about Mommy kissing the real Santa Claus and for some reason Daddy is nowhere to be found.  If, however, we look at it from the perspective of what’s really going on, it belongs in the Christmas Season category since it’s about a Christmas party where Daddy has dressed up as Santa Claus and is using the mistletoe as an excuse to snog Mommy (or vice versa).

Is there an important category that I’ve overlooked?  Are you wondering in which group a particular Christmas song belongs?  Comment away.


Eunice H said...

It seems "Frosty" could go into category 4 since he isn't about Santa, Christmas presents, and such, AND he (arguably) isn't exclusively a kids' song.

Herch said...

Huh, I never quite realized that "Frosty" never mentions Christmas directly. I still put him with the Santa Claus songs since that category could also be called the magic category. I intended to say something to that effect in the original post, but it slipped through the cracks. The post has been added to correct this oversight.