Christmas Song Oddities: Do You Hear What I Hear?

Are you ready to sing Christmas songs?

I am! Though each Advent, I’m reminded some Christmas songs are just plain … odd.

Oddity 1

chestnuts-985161_640Let’s examine the first line of a song crooned by everyone from Nat King Cole to Justin Bieber: “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. …”

Have you tasted a chestnut? Ever?

I sampled my first when someone at Taylor University, concerned that thousands of good, Christian people were singing lies every Advent, roasted chestnuts over an open fire after a Christmas event.

They tasted like smoky, boiled lima beans.

The immortal Erma Bombeck suggested we sing about popcorn in the microwave instead.

Oddity 2

Accuracy does not necessarily make a song. Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” originally began with a homesick guy’s lament about his sunny, palm-tree-dotted Christmas Eve in Beverly Hills.

If a guy in Frozen Nose, Minnesota, had heard that original version, he might not have helped make that song a best seller. A more likely reaction as he shoveled snow off his roof: “You want a white Christmas, buddy? Turn around, and my boot will send you on a free trip to Santa!”

Oddity 3

Who hasn’t warbled, “Oh, bring us some figgy pudding”?

Do you hear a “please”? The mom in me bristles. How rude.

Worse yet, “We won’t go until we get some,” sounds like holiday extortion.

Besides, who wants figgy pudding? News flash: It’s fruitcake!

Most carolers would run away screaming.

Oddity 4

sleigh-ride-549727_640We sing about reckless driving. Given the second verse of “Jingle Bells,” Miss Fannie Bright’s parents probably had something to say about her date’s driving the nineteenth-century equivalent of an unsafe jalopy. And the unrepentant driver urges other guys to pick up girls and whip fast horses into winning.

Christmas drag racing?

Oddity 5

Consider “The Little Drummer Boy,” in which he offers the only gift he possesses to the Christ Child. Lovely.

What mother of a sleeping newborn wouldn’t welcome a kid banging on a drum?

Mary probably would have preferred a “Silent Night,” though most births are anything but. Ditto for babies. Jesus was a newborn who needed feeding, changing and cuddling.

Did He say, “Excuse me, Mom, but I would like a snack”? Perhaps, “I need clean swaddling cloths.” And, “Please lose the cold hands.”

The Bible doesn’t say. It does say that thirty-plus years later, Jesus cried when His friend Lazarus died.

Yet we sing, “The little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes.”

Hmm. Sounds a little odd to me.


Do any Christmas songs strike you as a bit strange?



2 thoughts on “Christmas Song Oddities: Do You Hear What I Hear?

  1. Sara Hunt

    This isn’t so much about a line in a carol as it is about an incident involving the title of a carol. It is a memory etched in my mind but may be long forgotten by you. We were young, dreamy eyed college girls madly in love with Steve and Henry. We were talking about weddings and I said I wanted a Christmas wedding and I wanted you to sing O Holy Night. It would be beautiful! Your laughter and adamant NO went right over my head. It was obvious that I had grown up in a household of girls while you had grown up with brothers and thus was a little more worldly. The innuendo of that song title would have been so inappropriate. Thank goodness Henry and I had a springtime wedding instead. In the 40+ ensuing years since then I don’t think an Advent season has gone by without me thinking about this, always with a chuckle and a smile.

    1. rachael Post author

      Hahaha, Sara! I guess I remember that BOTH of us thought my singing “O Holy Night” would be great 🙂 When we told the guys, they snickered, then laughed themselves silly! Then I said, better not.

      Thanks for the giggle this morning! We might have been college girls at I.U., but we were so, so naive!


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