History of Christmas Carols

Christian Christmas carols can be traced back to St. Francis of Assisi. In the mid-thirteenth century, he began the tradition when his nativity plays were narrated with song instead of spoken words. The first ones published can be traced back to Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (1833) by William B. Sandys. Christian Christmas carol lyrics revolve around the birth of Jesus Christ, the hope he gives to a starving world, his mother Mary and the angels sent to comfort her and the other witnesses.

Santa Claus is the focus of secular Christmas songs. It is believed that the original Santa Claus was a priest in Europe around the tenth century who made sure the poor children in his town received a gift during the Christmas season. Many songs have been written about him. Rather than focusing on the gift of the Christ child, these songs focus on toys and what the singer wants to receive. Some of these songs also talk about what he looks like or where he lives.

Hanukkah, which means ‘dedication’, is also known as the ‘Celebration of Lights’. This holiday was begun to memorialize the rededication of the temple in the second century. The miraculous burning candle in the temple is the focus of many songs for this holiday, as are the menorah, candles and the driedel.

Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by a man wanting to give the black community an alternative to the Christian and Jewish holidays celebrated in America. The name is derived from Swahili words meaning ‘first fruits.’ Much like Hanukkah, this celebration also revolves around the lighting of candles, and a dedication to remembering their history.

Songs of Praise: Christian Christmas song files

Our Master's Voice: An alphabetical list of gospel Christmas songs

Max Solbrekken: Songs and other information about Christian Christmas

GTA: The true meaning of the Christmas holiday

Christmas Lyrics: Lyrics for Christian and secular Christmas songs

U of Calgary: List of children’s stories about Christmas

Northpole: Santa’s favorite songs

Common Sense: Best Christmas movies for kids

Carnegie Library: List of favorite kids Christmas movies

Evanston: List of songs and resources for the holidays

Songs for Teaching: Hanukkah songs for children

Chabad.org: Hanukkah song files

CJP.org: Hanukkah in pop culture

Midrash: A traditional song and other Hanukkah information

Kwanzaa: The official Kwanzaa website

DLTK: Kwanzaa activities for kids