How many holiday songs exist?

If you've been out shopping this holiday season, you may think that the same few Christmas songs exist; White Christmas, The Christmas Song, Blue Christmas or Jingle Bells.

But the real number may surprise you: almost 200,000 holiday songs exist!

In 2014, big data expert Aaron Daubman sought to quantify Christmas stats. Categorizing seasonal music as anything related to the various December holidays (Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukkah and even winter-themed melodies), he identified 914,000+ songs proposed on the streaming service Spotify. The number however, not counting duplicates is closer to 180,660. Daubman also determined that of the most played holiday songs, few have come after the sixties (exceptions of course the global success of Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You).

So where did it all begin?

The original Christmas Carol dates back to long before the appearance of the religious holiday, a few thousand years back in fact. Pagans would celebrate in song throughout the year but particularly during the winter period. Sung to highlight the celebration of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, Pagans would dance around circular megalithic structures during ritual ceremonies. The etymology of the word "Carol,” from Old French "carole" denotes both a song of praise and joy as well as the action of in circles. With the emergence of Christianity, these year-end chants transformed into liturgical songs and hymns, deemed by the Church as having been sung by the angels that welcomed the divine child. Here’s a brief history of the emergence of the Christmas Carol.


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5 comments
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