Surprising Facts About Christmas Music

With the holidays fast approaching, we can’t help but marvel at the deep well of music that’s been written to celebrate the season. Whatever your favorite genre, there are bound to be some holiday tunes that tickle your fancy. But are you familiar with these fun facts?

A popular version of “White Christmas” was the cover by Elvis Presley. Unfortunately, the composer Irving Berlin disliked it so much that he reportedly tried to stop radio stations from playing it. Nobody likes a critic, Mr. Berlin.

Do They Know It’s Christmas?” manages to make an appearance on a number of most-hated Christmas song lists. Created in 1984 for a good cause – raising funds to help those in need, such as people starving in Ethiopia – it was nonetheless called one of the “worst songs in history” by Bob Geldof, who cowrote the song with Midge Ure.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is among the oldest Christmas songs…that we still remember, anyway. It was originally written in the ninth century (in Latin) and became popular in the 18th century. Other oldies but goodies are “Joy to the World” (here’s a classic rock version) and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” both of which were written in the 18th century.

The second piece of music ever to be broadcast on radio was “O Holy Night” on Christmas Eve, 1906. It was performed as a violin solo by a Canadian inventor named Reginald Fessenden. You can hear a reproduction of the entire broadcast here.

Christmas carols often include the idea of peace, but one carol is, notably, an actual anti-war song. “Do You Hear What I Hear” was written by Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Did you know there are thousands and thousands of versions of “Silent Night”? Try searching your favorite music app and you’re bound to find a new recording you like – according to Spotify, there are more than 25,000 Silent Night tracks out there!