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The history behind “Jingle Bells”

Many people put their Christmas decorations up with Christmas songs playing in the background, and “Jingle Bells” is undoubtedly on the soundtrack for many.

However, Jingle Bells was never actually meant to be a Christmas song. When you listen to it, you may realise that it doesn’t mention Christmas, gifts, Father Christmas or even December. So, why do we consider it a quintessentially Christmas tune?

Who wrote it?

James Lord Pierpont penned the song in 1857, but it is believed that it was originally meant as a Thanksgiving song. Some think Pierpont’s pastor father had the song written for him for a Thanksgiving church service. However, when listening to the verses, it makes mention of racing sleighs with girls, so it may have potentially been too racy for a strictly conventional church service in the mid-1800s. In fact, Jingle Bells is thought to have become a drinking song for years, with people clinking ice cubes as they sang it and drank.

Why Christmas?

Bing Crosby recorded Jingle Bells in 1943 and it became instantly linked to Christmas. Jingle Bells was the first song aired from space in December 1965. The two astronauts teased that they had just seen Father Christmas before playing it, which further sealed the song’s festive identity.

Whether you sing it for Thanksgiving, as a drinking game or to welcome Father Christmas through the door, there is no doubt that as soon as you hear it, Jingle Bells gets one and all in a happy, festive mood.

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