The carols of Christmas are a holiday tradition. But have you ever stopped to listen to the words of some of the songs you are singing. The staff of Relevant magazine did and found that, if you think about it, a lot of traditional Christmas songs are really strange. Here are several of the most confusing.
- Jingle Bells: This holiday classic is pretty fun for the first couple of verses, but as you listen further, the ride on the “one horse open sleigh” turns into a wintertime nightmare. First, the rider and the unfortunate “Miss Fannie Bright” get stuck in a snow bank. Then, the poor songwriter, slips on the ice and hurts his back, only to have passers-by laugh and leave him injured in the snow.
- 12 Days of Christmas: The writer’s “true love” may have had good intentions, but it seems like receiving 184 birds (counting up all the days) would be grounds for breaking up.
- Santa Claus is Coming to Town: this song is one, big, noisy Yuletide threat to children, in which Santa comes across like the NSA. “Be good for goodness’ sake” carries an ominous, unspoken “or else.”
- Do You Hear What I Hear?: If you think the night wind and a little lamb are talking to you, chances are you’re the only one hearing what you’re hearing.
- We Wish You a Merry Christmas: This classic carol starts off happily enough—it’s a group of carolers wishing everyone a merry Christmas. Then they suddenly get demanding: “Bring us some figgy pudding.” The song eventually turns into an angry mob, as their true motives are revealed: “We won’t go until we get some!”
- Carol of the Bells: The lyrics to this dramatic carol are relatively tame. The head-scratching part is how a song that sounds like it should be played at the terrifying climax of a horror movie became a Christmas classic.
- Little Drummer Boy: When this Christmas staple is actually using words, it’s a pretty touching carol. But it’s hard to take any song seriously when the performer is singing “pa rum pum pum pum” for 80 percent of the lines.