On the Fifth Day of my Christmas Holidays my employer gave to me…Five Carol Singers!
Christmas Carols as a tradition can be traced as far back as 4th century Rome, where they were grim hymns sung all in Latin. In the 9th and 10 century, European monasteries made Christmas “sequences” and “prose” into rhythmic stanzas.
However recognizable English Christmas carols wouldn’t appear – at least in a recorded way – until 1426 when Chaplain John Awdlay listed twenty-five “carols of cristemas” in one of his works. Songs undoubtedly already made popular by groups calling themselves ‘wassailers’ who went from house to house singing the hymns. In fact, many carols originated from communal songs sung during all kinds of celebrations, and not just Christmas.
Flash forward to the 19th century where the publication of the first “Christmas music books” suddenly expanded the popularity of carols beyond all previous expectations.
So if you’re bugged at your door this Christmas by people in Victorian garbs singing ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’, you can blame it on the Romans. Hmm…most of this has been just plain history not much Folklore, oh well there’s always tomorrow.
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