Christmas Symbols

Christmas Caroling

The first Christmas hymns were sung during the period of the great Roman Empire and were written in Latin. In the 800s and 900s, there were monasteries in Northern Europe that began developing a series of rhyming patterns that eventually became a similar form of the Christmas Carols that we know today. In France and Germany Christmas songs were becoming more popular in the 13th century however, it wasn't until 1426 that the trend became apparent within English speaking territories after the documented "caroles of Christmas" written by John Awdlay. The writings highlighted 25 carols that were being sung, more so as Wassailing songs. There was a brief period where Caroling became unpopular during the reformation; apparently their use was not well accepted in protestant churches.

By the 19th century however, carols began making their way into the Christmas celebrations of several churches. The first example of this was in the Truro Cathedral in Cornwall England on Christmas Eve in 1880. Since then they have been integrated in most church's celebration of the holy day. Those carols that were chosen for church use eliminated songs related to wassailing (tributes made with alcoholic beverages). Instead only songs that were deemed holy and related to the “Lord” were sung during this period of reverence. It is perhaps for this reason that the term carol is interchangeable with hymn. The Christmas services performed by most churches were and still are accompanied by readings from the scriptures.

But Carols have always had their place outside of churches. In the earlier periods carols were sung from door to door, this often led to the carolers receiving gifts and other kind gestures. This tradition has also inspired charities that use this method of collecting donations to sustain various charitable outreach programs. There were other renditions of carols that were done while drinking, this as mentioned before is termed wassailing. This was done more in revelry than in a spirit of reverence.

Today carols are still sung, they are still beloved and they still represent the essence of Christmas. The beauty of carols lie in their ability to be enjoyed religiously or secularly, which can be attributed to their catchy tunes and lyrical compositions.