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Favorite Christmas Songs for Your Holiday Playlist

Is there anything that gets you in the mood for Christmas more than music? The first time you hear a Christmas song at the start of the holiday season your heart begins to grow like Dr. Seuss' Grinch. Before you know it you’re singing that song out loud.

The Christmas song tradition has been with us for many centuries. The first Christmas carol was written in the 4th century in Europe, it was a hymn about Jesus Christ. This hymn, “Jesus, Light of All Nations,” was written by a Roman Christian poet. Some of the oldest Christmas songs are still sung today. “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” dates back to mid 16th century England.“Good King Wenceslas” written in England in 1853 is based on a 13th century carol from Finland. The hymn “O Come All Ye Faithful” has origins in Portugal, also from the 13th century. The oldest French carol that is still being sung today, “The Friendly Beasts,” dates back to the 12th century. 

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, you are probably familiar with some of today’s most popular songs. Most of these Christmas songs are less than 200 years old and were written somewhere in the United States. In tradition with our favorite holiday movies, our team is sharing our favorite holiday songs with you. Follow along as we reveal the origins and some interesting facts about our favorites.

Morgan's top five favorite Christmas songs are:

Let It Snow - Boyz II Men (written inHollywood, CAin 1945)

Fun fact:  It was written on the hottest day of the year as a means to focus on anything but the heat.

What Christmas Means To Me - Stevie Wonder (written in the 1950’s in the USA)

Fun fact:It was co-written by Anna Gordy Gaye, Motown’s Berry Gordy’s sister.

Where Are You Christmas - Faith Hill (written in the USA in the year 2000)

Fun fact: The song was written for the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas by James Horner, Mariah Carey and Will Jennings.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Jackson 5 (written in 1932 in the USA)

Fun fact: In 1970 an animated TV special based on this song and narrated by Fred Astaire was broadcast.

This Christmas - Stevie Wonder (written in 1970 in the USA)

Fun fact: A movie based on the song was released in 2007, starring Idris Elba, Regina King and Chris Brown.

Julia is known to play Christmas music any time of the year, her top five are:

All I Want For Christmas is You- Mariah Carey (written in 1994 in the USA)

Fun fact: This is the most successful Christmas song written after 1963.

Carol of the Bells- John Williams (is based on a traditional Ukrainian folk chant with music by a Ukrainian composer)

Fun fact: John Williams’ version was used in the Christmas movie, Home Alone.

Believe- Josh Groban(written in 2004 in the USA)

Fun fact:The songwriters received a Grammy award in the Best Song Written For a Motion Picture category for this song in the movie The Polar Express.

Christmas Eve in Sarajevo 12/21- Trans-Siberian Orchestra (written in 1995 in the USA)

Fun fact:The piece tells a story about a cello player born in Sarajevo who returns to his war torn city and finds it in ruins. Every night he plays Christmas songs with the cello on the ruins of the town square as the city is being bombed.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas- Frank Sinatra (written in 1943 in the USA)

Fun fact: Frank Sinatra added the lyrics, “Hang a shining star upon the highest bough,” to make the song more uplifting.

Elon shares her favorite holiday songs:

All I Want for Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey (written in 1994 in the USA)

Fun fact: This song tops the charts around the world and is one of Mariah Carey’s biggest international hits.

The Christmas Song - Whitney Houston (written in 1945 in the USA)

Fun fact:This song was first recorded by the Nat King Cole trio.

Carol of the Bells (is based on a traditional Ukrainian folk chant with music by a Ukrainian composer)

Fun fact:The song was debuted in the U.S. at Carnegie Hall in 1921.

Now Behold the Lamb - Kirk Franklin (written in 1995 in the USA)

Fun fact:The Christmas album that this song was released on was only Kirk Franklin’s second album.

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (written in 1892 in Russia)

Fun fact: The piece was composed using a newly invented instrument, the celesta, that replicates the sound of water drops in a fountain. It is the most recognized part of the music.

Our guest writer, Martha, shares her favorite holiday songs:

O'Come, O'Come Emmanuel -with or without lyrics (The latin text was written in the 9th century and the music in 15th century in France.)

Fun fact:Anglican priest John Mason Neale's translated version of the hymn made it into the Church of England’s hymnal in 1861.

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year- Andy Williams (written in 1963 in the USA)

Fun fact:One of the lyrics in the song talks about telling scary ghost stories which was a Victorian Christmas tradition that no longer happens today.

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire- Nat King Cole (written in 1945 in the USA)

Fun fact:The song is a.k.a. “The Christmas Song” or “Merry Christmas to You.”

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas- Gayla Peevy (written in 1953 in the USA)

Fun fact:10 year old Gayla Peevy was actually presented with a baby hippopotamus for Christmas, just like she requests in the song. She donated the hippo to the local zoo.

Christmas Eve in Sarajevo- Trans Siberian Orchestra Christmas (written in 1995 in the USA)

Fun fact: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and  “Carol of the Bells” are parts one and two of this piece of music which consists of four sections.

Gina enjoys more traditional music with one or two contemporary pieces:

The First Noel- Pentatonix (written in 1823 in England)

Fun fact: Other notable covers of the song were done by Elvis Presley, Nat King Cole, Mariah Carey, Josh Groban, Frank Sinatra, the Brady Bunch, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie and Whitney Houston.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas- Johnnyswim (written in 1941 in the USA)

Fun fact:The song is written as a letter home from a soldier stationed overseas during WWII, telling his family he is coming home for Christmas, but it all may be wishful thinking

River- Robert Downey Jr. (written in 1971 in Hollywood, CA)

Fun fact:River is a Christmas folk song written by Joni Mitchell and went on to become her second most widely recorded song.

Mary Did You Know?- Voctave (written in 1991 in the USA)

Fun fact:  The author, Mark Lowry, began writing a list of questions he would ask Mary if he could have a conversation with her, these questions became the lyrics for this song.

Silent Night- Lady Antebellum (written in 1818 in Salzburg)

Fun fact: “Silent Night” has been translated into over 200 languages around the world.

Addison wanted to share his favorites:

Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley (written in 1948 in the USA)

Fun fact: Elvis’ recording of this song on his 1968 television special, is the only footage that exists of Elvis singing a Christmas song.

White Christmas - Bing Crosby (written in 1942 in the USA)

Fun fact: The song was featured in two Bing Crosby films, “Holiday Inn” and a movie of the same name “White Christmas.”

Frosty the Snowman - Ella Fitzgerald (written in 1950 in the USA)

Fun fact: The song was brought to life as an animated television adaptation in 1969.

Run Rudolph Run - Chuck Berry (written in 1958 in the USA)

Fun fact: The song is based on the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and often described as “Rudolph” with an attitude.

Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms (written in 1957 in the USA)

Fun fact: When the song was released in 1957 two days before Christmas it  still hit #6 on the pop chart.

Emma likes Christmas music so much she couldn't choose just 5:

Emmanuel and Little Town from A Christmas Album by Amy Grant – the two pair well back-to-back (“Emmanuel” was written in 1983 in the USA, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” was written in 1868 in Philadelphia, PA)

Fun fact: “Little Town” is “O Little Town of Bethlehem” with a new melody. The hymn was inspired by a visit to Bethlehem in 1865.

The Christmas Sing-Along- Pentatonix (written in 2016 in the USA)

Fun fact: The album A Pentatonix Christmas with this new original song, debuted at the top of the Billboard Holiday Albums chart.

Santa Tell Me- Ariana Grande (written in 2014 in the USA)

Fun fact: Ariana Grande announced the songs release on Twitter with the hashtag #10DaysTilSantaTellMe.

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)- Michael Bublé (written in 1963 in the USA)

Fun fact:The original version of this song by Darlene Love was used in the movies Gremlins, Goodfellas, Bad Santa, and Christmas with the Kranks.

Silent Night- Mormon Tabernacle Choir (written in 1818 in Salzburg)

Fun fact: “Silent Night” debuted in 1818 as a guitar duet during St. Nicholas Church Christmas Eve Service in Oberndorf.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas- Brett Eldredge (written in 1941 in the USA)

Fun fact: The song became the most requested song by WWII soldiers at Christmas U.S.O. shows.

Katy is ready for Christmas once she hears these five songs:

Christmas Eve in Sarajevo 12/21- Trans-Siberian Orchestra (written in 1995 in the USA)

Fun fact: The piece was originally rejected by radio stations because of it’s artist’s heavy metal origins.

Silent Night (written in 1818 in Salzburg)

Fun fact: Sinead O’Connor’s 1991 recording  was the most popular version in England in 2010.

Gloria (Mary's Song) - (written in 1745 in Germany)

Fun fact: This song is part of a Christian hymn also known as the Greater Doxology.

The Christmas Song- Nat King Cole (written in 1945 in the USA)

Fun fact: This is the most popular version of the song and it's one of the most played holiday songs.

The First Noel (written in 1823 in England)

Fun fact: The word Noel comes from the Latin word natalis, meaning “to be born.”

Abbi can't wait for you to see her top five:

Silent Night (written in 1818 in Salzburg)

Fun fact: It was declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO.

O Come All Ye Faithful (written in 1744 in France)

Fun fact: The original text was written in Latin and titled, "Adeste Fideles.”

Do They Know it's Christmas?- Band Aid (written in 1984 in London)

Fun fact: The performers on this song that was written to raise awareness of famine in Ethiopia include: Boy George, Bono, David Bowie, George Michael and Paul McCartney.

All I Want for Christmas is You- Mariah Carey  (written in 1994 in the USA)

Fun fact: As of 2017, the song has earned $60 million in royalties.

Carol of the Bells (written in 1914 and is based on a traditional Ukrainian folk chant with music by a Ukrainian composer)

Fun fact: The Ukrainian National Chorus introduced the song to a Western audience during a tour through England and the USA in 1919 through 1921.



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