Christmas comes but once a year. Christmas carols, on the other hand… they can stay in your head for much longer.
Over the past several weeks, aspiring crooners have been searching for all manner of holiday tunes. Chestnuts roasting on open fires? Check. Reindeer with improbably red noses? Yup. Below we’ve written a list of the top searched-for Christmas carols. And, yes, we checked it twice.
Not surprisingly, it’s the 12 Days of Christmas in the top spot. We suspect most of these searches are from people wanting to know more about the story behind the lyrics. A partridge in a pear tree? Come on, who does that?
The song dates back to the 18th century, but didn’t come to the United States until the early 20th century when Emily Brown, a grade school teacher in Milwaukee, put on a play inspired by the classic carol. First Stage writes that Brown wrote several plays. Her version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was so popular that the tune went on to “spread throughout the country.” And keep in mind, this was pre-Facebook.
The story behind “Silent Night” may be even more amazing. An Austrian priest named Joseph Mohr wrote the song in the 19th century. According to legend, it was Christmas Eve and Mohr discovered that his church organ wasn’t working. With little time to spare, Mohr pulled out a poem he had been working on, thinking that the church’s chorus could sing it without an organ to back them up. Needless to say, it worked. Silent Night is one of the all-time favorite Christmas carols. That may not be exactly how it all went down, but it sure makes for a good story.
The decidedly more modern “The Christmas Song” (aka “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”) comes in third. This classic tune was co-written by Mel Torme, and went on to be one of the “the most beloved seasonal standards after it was recorded by Nat (King) Cole in 1946.” According to his obituary in The New York Times, “Mr. Torme liked to recall that the song was written in just 40 minutes on a sweltering July afternoon in Los Angeles and that it had subsequently been recorded in 1,734 versions.”
Below, the rest of the top-searched Christmas carols…
2. Silent Night
4. Jingle Bells
8. O Holy Night
10. Feliz Navidad