- Christmas music
Christmas music comprises a variety of genres of music normally performed or heard around the Christmas season, which tends to begin in the months leading up the actual holiday and end in the weeks shortly thereafter.
- 1 History
- 2 Traditional Christmas carols
- 3 Popular Christmas songs
- 4 Adopted Christmas music
- 5 Novelty songs
- 6 Radio broadcasting
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
Music was an early feature of the Christmas season and its celebrations. The earliest chants, litanies, and hymns were Latin works intended for use during the church liturgy, rather than popular songs. The 13th century saw the rise of the carol written in the vernacular under the influence of Francis of Assisi.
In the Middle Ages, the English combined circle dances with singing and called them carols. Later, the word carol came to mean a song in which a religious topic is treated in a style that is familiar or festive. From Italy, it passed to France and Germany, and later to England. Christmas carols in English first appear in a 1426 work of John Audelay, a Shropshire priest and poet, who lists twenty five "caroles of Cristemas", probably sung by groups of wassailers, who went from house to house. Music in itself soon became one of the greatest tributes to Christmas, and Christmas music includes some of the noblest compositions of the great musicians.
During the Commonwealth of England government under Cromwell, the Rump Parliament prohibited the practice of singing Christmas carols as pagan and sinful. Like other customs associated with popular Catholic Christianity, it earned the disapproval of Protestant Puritans. Famously, Cromwell's interregnum prohibited all celebrations of the Christmas holiday. This attempt to ban the public celebration of Christmas can also be seen in the early history of Father Christmas.
The Westminster Assembly of Divines established Sunday as the only holy day in the calendar in 1644. The new liturgy produced for the English church recognised this in 1645 and so legally abolished Christmas. Its celebration was declared an offence by Parliament in 1647. There is some debate as to the effectiveness of this ban and whether or not it was enforced in the country.
Puritans generally disapproved of the celebration of Christmas — a trend which has continually resurfaced in Europe and the USA through the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
When in May 1660 Charles II restored the Stuarts to the throne, the people of England once again practised the public singing of Christmas carols as part of the revival of Christmas customs, sanctioned by the king's own celebrations. William B. Sandys's Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (1833), contained the first appearance in print of many now-classic English carols, and contributed to the mid-Victorian revival of the holiday. Singing carols in church was instituted on Christmas Eve 1880 (Nine Lessons and Carols) in Truro Cathedral, Cornwall, England, which is now seen in churches all over the world.
The tradition of singing Christmas carols in return for alms or charity began in England in the seventeenth century after the Restoration. Town musicians or 'waits' were licensed to collect money in the streets in the weeks preceding Christmas, the custom spread throughout the population by the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries up to the present day. Also from the seventeenth century, there was the English custom, predominantly involving women, of taking a 'wassail bowl' round their neighbours to solicit gifts, accompanied by carols. Despite this long history, almost all surviving Christmas carols date only from the nineteenth century onwards, with the exception of some traditional folk songs such as; 'God Rest You Merry Gentlemen', 'As I Sat on a Sunny Bank' and 'The Holly and the Ivy'.
The status of Christmas as an important feast within the church year also means there is a long tradition of music specially composed for celebrating the season. The following is a brief and non-exhaustive list of notable compositions:
- Thomas Tallis: Mass "Puer natus est nobis" (1554)
- Heinrich Schütz: Weihnachtshistorie (1664)
- Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Pastorale sur la naissance de N.S. Jésus-Christ (c. 1670)
- Johann Sebastian Bach: several cantatas for Christmas to Epiphany and Christmas Oratorio (1734)
- George Frideric Handel: Messiah (1741)
- Messiah has become inextricably linked with the Christmas season, especially in England. This is in part due to the efforts of amateur choral societies during the nineteenth century. When it was composed, it was performed during Passiontide.
- Jakub Jan Ryba: Czech Christmas Mass "Hey, Master!" (1796)
- Various 18th century composers such as Arcangelo Corelli, Antonio Vivaldi, Giuseppe Torelli & others: Christmas Concertos (for performance on Christmas Eve)
- Hector Berlioz: L'enfance du Christ (1853–4)
- Camille Saint-Saëns: Oratorio de Noël (1858)
- Benjamin Britten: A Ceremony of Carols (1942)
In the United States the playing of Christmas music had generally begun after the Thanksgiving holidays, at which point Christmas decorations in stores and on streets would also appear, but in recent decades the music and related decor have been appearing increasingly early. This tendency for the length of the Christmas and holiday season to grow is referred to as 'Christmas creep'. Given the importance of the seasonal gift-giving to the U.S. economy, one driven largely by consumer spending, and with the music industry making at least 40 percent of its annual revenue in the fourth quarter culminating at Christmas, demands for increased revenues motivates the shift. Christmas music best serenades these shopping months, injecting the Christmas spirit and putting shoppers into the proper mood for buying gifts.
Radio stations—responsible for so much of Christmas music broadcasting, popularization, and appreciation—are "going Christmas earlier and earlier", even the day after Halloween, because executives "think that listeners will stick with the first station to change to a seasonal theme." About 400 radio stations "across the United States play Christmas music around the clock." In Chicago, WLIT-FM saw its share of all radio listeners grow from a 2.9/3.6 share earlier in the year to 9.3 during the Nov. 28 to Dec. 11, 2003 Arbitron rating period. A 2002 Arbitron ratings study confirmed holiday-music surges at stations around the country.
Traditional Christmas carols
Songs which are traditional, even some without a specific religious context, are often called Christmas carols. Each of these has a rich history, some dating back many centuries. A standard set of these traditional carols might include:
- "Angels We Have Heard on High"
- "Away in a Manger"
- "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella"
- "Coventry Carol"
- "Deck the Halls" (Deck the Hall)
- "Ding Dong Merrily on High"
- "The First Nowell" (The First Noël)
- "Gabriel's Message"
- "Go Tell It on the Mountain"
- "God rest you merry, gentlemen" (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)
- "Good King Wenceslas"
- "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"
- "Here We Come A-Wassailing"
- "The Holly and the Ivy"
- "I Saw Three Ships"
- "I Wonder as I Wander"
- "In dulci jubilo"
- "In the Bleak Midwinter"
- "It Came upon the Midnight Clear"
- "Joy to the World"
- "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming"
- "O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)"
- "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"
- "O Holy Night (Cantique de Noel)"
- "O Little Town of Bethlehem"
- "Once in Royal David's City"
- "See, Amid the Winter's Snow"
- "Silent Night"
- "Sussex Carol (On Christmas Night)"
- "The Twelve Days of Christmas"
- "Up on the House Top"
- "We Three Kings of Orient Are"
- "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"
- "Wexford Carol"
- "What Child Is This"
- "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks"
Popular Christmas songs
More recently popular Christmas songs, often introduced through film or other entertainment medium, are specifically about Christmas, but are typically not overtly religious and therefore do not qualify as Christmas carols. The archetypal example is 1942’s “White Christmas”, although many other holiday songs have become perennial favorites in the United States, such as Gene Autry’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”.
Most-performed Christmas songs (USA)
According to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in 2006, the following are the Top 25 most-performed "holiday" songs written by ASCAP members, for the first five years of the 21st century: (tracking plays in the U.S. only, and in order of number of plays)
- "The Christmas Song" (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) – Mel Tormé, Robert Wells
- "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" – Ralph Blane, Hugh Martin
- "Winter Wonderland" – Felix Bernard, Richard B. Smith
- "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" – J. Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie
- "White Christmas" – Irving Berlin
- "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" – Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne
- "Jingle Bell Rock" – Joseph Carleton Beal, James Ross Boothe
- "The Little Drummer Boy" – Katherine K. Davis, Henry V. Onorati, Harry Simeone
- "Sleigh Ride" – Leroy Anderson, Mitchell Parish
- "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" – Johnny Marks
- "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" – Edward Pola, George Wyle
- "I'll Be Home for Christmas" – Walter Kent, Kim Gannon, Buck Ram
- "Silver Bells" – Jay Livingston, Ray Evans
- "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" – Johnny Marks
- "Feliz Navidad" – José Feliciano
- "Blue Christmas" – Billy Hayes, Jay W. Johnson
- "Frosty the Snowman" – Steve Nelson, Walter E. Rollins
- "A Holly Jolly Christmas" – Johnny Marks
- "It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas" – Meredith Willson
- "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" – Tommie Connor
- "Here Comes Santa Claus" (Right Down Santa Claus Lane) – Gene Autry, Oakley Haldeman
- "Carol of the Bells" – Peter J. Wilhousky, Mykola D. Leontovych
- "Do They Know It's Christmas? (Feed the World) — Midge Ure, Bob Geldof
- "(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays" – Bob Allen, Al Stillman
- "Santa Baby" – Joan Ellen Javits, Philip Springer, Tony Springer, and Fred Ebb
Of these, the oldest songs are "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and "Winter Wonderland" which were both published in 1934. Do They Know It's Christmas? (Feed the World) by Midge Ure and Bob Geldof is new to the list: "Recorded in 1984 by Band Aid — an all-star band of British musicians — this benefit single assisted famine relief efforts in Ethiopia, and sold millions of copies over the '84 holiday season." Songs introduced through motion pictures in the top 25 are: "White Christmas" from Holiday Inn (1942), "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" from Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), and "Silver Bells" in The Lemon Drop Kid (1950).
Johnny Marks has three top Christmas songs, the most for any writer—"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree", and "A Holly Jolly Christmas". By far the most recorded Christmas song is "White Christmas" with well over 500 versions in dozens of languages.
While the ASCAP list is relatively popular in the United Kingdom and Ireland, it remains largely overshadowed by a collection of chart hits recorded in a bid to be crowned the UK Christmas number one single during the 1970s and 1980s. According to a 2007 poll, the UK's most popular Christmas song is Merry Xmas Everybody by Slade, a band that was popular in the 1970s.
Other popular Christmas songs (USA)
Popular Christmas songs that failed to make the 2006 top-25 ASCAP list include such titles as "Happy Holidays", "Baby It's Cold Outside", "Marshmallow World", and "Give Love on Christmas Day"—all recorded by a number of acts. Newer titles mostly associated with the originating artist include "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" by John Lennon, "Baby Please Come Home" by U2 (originally by Darlene Love, "Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You" by Billy Squier, "Merry Christmas Darling" by The Carpenters, "Merry Christmas, Baby" by Bruce Springsteen (originally by the Beach Boys, "Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney, "Step Into Christmas" by Elton John (lyrics by Bernie Taupin), "Last Christmas" by Wham!, "All I Want For Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey, and "Pretty Paper" by Roy Orbison and Willie Nelson. "Please Come Home for Christmas" was written and released by Charles Brown in 1960, but is now mostly associated with The Eagles. More recent covers of songs found on the ASCAP top-25 that have gained a popularity all their own include Bruce Springsteen's and The Jackson Five's separate versions of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town", as well as other Christmas titles covered by these two acts. The unlikely pairing of Bing Crosby with David Bowie on the impromptu "The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth" created one of the most popular Christmas duets ever recorded.
Top ten most played Christmas Songs (UK) 2010
The top ten most played Christmas songs in the United Kingdom based on a 2010 survey conducted by PRS for Music, who collect and pay royalties to its 75,000 song-writing and composing members, are as follows:
- "All I Want for Christmas Is You" – Mariah Carey
- "Last Christmas" – Wham!
- "Fairytale of New York" – The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl
- "Do They Know It’s Christmas?" – Band Aid
- "Merry Xmas Everybody" - Slade
- "White Christmas" - Louis Armstrong
- "Driving Home for Christmas" – Chris Rea
- "Merry Christmas Everyone" - Shakin' Stevens
- "Mistletoe and Wine" – Cliff Richard
- "Walking in the Air" - Aled Jones
Included in previous lists—like those for 2009 and 2008—are such titles as "Stop the Cavalry" - Jona Lewie, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" - Bruce Springsteen, "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" - Wizzard, "Step into Christmas" - Elton John, "Lonely This Christmas" - Mud, and "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby.
The BBC has covered the stories of the writing of Christmas songs, including:
- Greg Lake - I Believe In Father Christmas
- Chris de Burgh - A Spaceman Came Travelling
- Slade - Merry Xmas Everybody
- Jona Lewis - Stop the Calvary
- Shakin' Stevens - Merry Christmas Everyone
- The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale of New York
- Wizzard - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day
- Cliff Richard - Mistletoe & Wine
Adopted Christmas music
Much of what is known as Christmas music today was adopted from music initially created for other purposes. Retroactively these were applied to Christmas, or came to be associated with the holiday in some way. Many secular songs are regarded as “Christmas” songs due to the time of year they are most often heard or sung, despite never mentioning anything about the holiday. These include favorites such as “Winter Wonderland”, “Let it Snow”, and "Baby, It's Cold Outside". “Sleigh Ride”'s standard lyrics mention not a Christmas party but a birthday party. The now hugely popular Christmas standard "Jingle Bells" was originally written to celebrate Thanksgiving. Many of these tunes fall into the generic “winter” classification, as they carry no Christmas connotation at all. To popularize a winter-themed song, especially in the United States, without its being regarded as a “Christmas” song, would be difficult. In fact, winter-themed songs are generally not played on the radio in the U.S. during the larger part of the winter after the Christmas season has ended, in marked contrast to their counterparts, summer hits, which receive airplay throughout their season. They may receive limited radio airplay on some stations, particularly after a significant snow event.
The phenomenon is not limited to popular music; classical music, too, has been adopted to the Christmas canon. Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker comprises a set of secular orchestral pieces often performed at Christmastime. Perhaps the most famous Christmas music of all, Handel's "Messiah", was written for an Easter performance in 1742 in Ireland, and performed from 1750 until Handel's death for the Foundling Hospital for orphans around Eastertime.
"Christmas number one single" in U.K. and Ireland
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the terms "Christmas number one single" and "Christmas number two single" denote songs released around the time of the Christmas holiday and that reach the top of the UK Singles Chart and/or Irish Singles Chart respectively. Because of the two countries' proximity to each other, the Irish #1 is usually the same as the British #1 or #2. Though some of these songs do tend to develop an association with Christmas or the holiday season, such an association tends to be much shorter lived than the more traditionally themed Christmas songs such as "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday", "Mistletoe and Wine" and "Merry Christmas Everyone", and the songs may have nothing to do with Christmas or even winter. Past Christmas number-ones include children's songs such as "Mr Blobby" (#1, 1993) and the theme from Bob the Builder (#1, 2000), novelty songs such as Benny Hill's "Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West)" (#1, 1971) and South Park's "Chocolate Salty Balls" (#2, 1998), and several examples of standard pop fare that would likely be just as popular outside the holiday season. Some songs will be "tweaked" to make them more related to Christmas. This is almost exclusively a British cultural phenomenon; some notable and longer-lasting examples include Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" (#1, 1985, 1989 and 2004), Slade's "Merry Xmas Everybody" (#1, 1972) and Wham!'s "Last Christmas" (#2, 1984).
Reality television has had an impact on both the British and the Irish charts since 2002. In that year, the series Popstars The Rivals produced the top three singles on the Christmas charts: two produced by the two "rival" groups created as the result of the series (the girl group Girls Aloud and the boy band One True Voice) finished first and second respectively, while failed contestants The Cheeky Girls charted with a novelty hit at third, on the British charts. Will Young, winner of the first Pop Idol, charted at the top of the Irish charts in 2003, but not in his native Britain. Since the second series of the TV series The X Factor, which ends in December, the debut song from that series' winner generally is released at a time conducive to it becoming the Christmas number one in both countries, and most of the songs are unrelated to Christmas. X Factor winners have earned the Christmas number one in at least one of the two countries every year since 2005, and in both for all but two of them. As a result of the show's stranglehold on the top of the charts, each year since 2008 has seen protest campaigns to outsell the X Factor single and prevent it from reaching number one. Only one has actually been successful: in 2009, "Killing in the Name" by Rage Against the Machine reached number one in the UK instead of that year's X Factor winner, Joe McElderry; McElderry did reach number one in Ireland. 2010 saw several campaigns to unseat the X Factor winner, but fracturing between the warring campaigns in Britain and a delay in the delivery of The Rubberbandits' "Horse Outside" to stores in Ireland led to X Factor winner Matt Cardle earning the number one in both countries.
Another form of popular Christmas song are those musical parodies performed solely for comical effect, usually classified as "novelty songs". These range from those sung by children, or largely for their enjoyment, to those with a distinctly adult theme.
- "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" written by Donald Yetter Gardner in 1944 and introduced by Spike Jones and his City Slickers in 1948.
- "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" sung by 13-year old Jimmy Boyd in 1952.
- "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" written by John Rox and performed by 10 year-old Gayla Peevey in 1953.
- "Nuttin' For Christmas" by Art Mooney and Barry Gordon, who was seven years old when he sang the song in 1955.
- "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)" sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks in 1958.
- "¿Dónde Está Santa Claus?" performed by 12-year old Augie Rios in 1958, with "I Don't Care Who You Are Old Fatso, Get Those Reindeer Off My Roof" on the B side.
- "Monster's Holiday" recorded by Bobby "Boris" Pickett, written by Paul Harrison, released December 1962.
- "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" originally done for the 1966 cartoon special How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. The lyrics were written by Dr. Seuss, the music was by Albert Hague, and the lyrics were performed by Thurl Ravenscroft. Many different versions have been recorded since.
- "Snoopy's Christmas" performed by The Royal Guardsmen in 1967; a follow-up to their earlier song "Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron" recorded in 1966.
- "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" by Elmo & Patsy which came out in 1979.
- "Rusty Chevrolet" by Da Yoopers in 1987, a parody of Jingle Bells.
- "Santa Claus and His Old Lady" recorded by Cheech and Chong in 1971.
- "A Christmas Carol" by Tom Lehrer, a parody of Christmas carols purporting to show the true spirit of Christmas, "refer[ring], of course, to money."
- "Green Chri$tma$," a similarly-themed parody by Stan Freberg.
- "Don't Shoot Me Santa" was released by The Killers in 2007, benefiting various AIDS charities.
- "Christmas Tree" by Lady Gaga featuring Space Cowboy was released in 2008.
- Numerous "The Twelve Days of Christmas" parodies, including one by Bob and Doug McKenzie (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas) which came out in 1982, and another by the a capella group Straight No Chaser which was first performed in 1997.
The number of Christmas novelty songs is so immense that radio host Dr. Demento devotes an entire month of weekly two-hour episodes to the format each year, and the novelty songs receive frequent requests at radio stations across the country. The Dan Band released several adult-oriented Christmas songs on their 2007 album "Ho: A Dan Band Christmas" which included "Ho, Ho, Ho" (ho being slang for a prostitute), "I Wanna Rock You Hard This Christmas", "Please Don't Bomb Nobody This Holiday" and "Get Drunk & Make Out This Christmas". Christmas novelty songs can involve gallows humor and even morbid humor like that found in "Christmas at Ground Zero" and "The Night Santa Went Crazy", both by "Weird Al" Yankovic.
Bob Rivers, a morning radio personality from Seattle, has performed a number of parody and novelty Christmas songs based on secular hit songs and traditional Christmas/non-traditional Christmas songs like "The Twelve Pains of Christmas," "There's A Santa Who Looks a lot like Elvis," "Rummy Rocker Boy," "Wreck the Malls," "Parking Spaces," "Toy Sack," "All You Need Is Elves," and many others. Rivers has parlayed the format into several albums, beginning with Twisted Christmas in 1987 and following it with I Am Santa Claus, More Twisted Christmas, Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire, and White Trash Christmas.
Radio broadcasting of Christmas music has been around for several decades. Traditionally, U.S. radio stations (particularly those with such formats as adult contemporary, top 40, adult standards, or easy listening) began adding some Christmas-themed selections to their regular playlists shortly after Thanksgiving each year. Some exclusively aired 36–48 hours of continuous Christmas music between December 24–25. Since the mid-1990s, it has become increasingly common for stations to switch their programming to continuous Christmas music around Thanksgiving. This practice became more profound after 9/11, when many radio stations across the United States sought a sort of musical "comfort food".
24/7 Christmas music
The 24/7 all-Christmas format has been generally successful due in large part to Christmas creep. Many radio stations began airing an all-Christmas format by Thanksgiving, starting as early as the Friday one week prior. Several stations have started the format as early as November 1 (a few, such as KOSY and WNIC, have earned a reputation for this) or even in late October, although this is generally the exception rather than the norm. Stations that change formats before Thanksgiving sometimes experience backlash from listeners, because this is well outside the traditional Christmas and holiday season.
To accommodate the adult contemporary stations' flip to Christmas music, the syndicated John Tesh and Delilah nighttime shows also play this format around the same time as their respective affiliates. Some radio stations, even those that do not play full-time Christmas music prior to Christmas Eve, play Christmas music commercial-free the entire day on Christmas Day and often a portion of Christmas Eve as well (e.g. KOIT), with only interruptions for Christmas messages from station personnel and personnel from the station's parent company. (This is also the case on home shopping TV networks.)
Some in the industry speculate that more stations may start programming 24/7 Christmas music as early as November 1 each year, which could result in dozens of stations (instead of the half-dozen or so stations in prior years) "taking the plunge" on that first day after Halloween (although November 1 is the Day of the Dead, the reason for Halloween's existence). As of the last week of October 2010, four stations had changed to the format. Two of them (WSMM in South Bend, Indiana and an admittedly-stunting WSHP in Lafayette, Indiana) did so on their analog channel; the other two were automated digital-only channels, WBEB HD2 and WPEN HD2, both in Philadelphia. The number of "all-Christmas" radio stations indeed jumped on November 1; for instance, four stations in upstate New York adopted the format that morning. HD Radio also allows for the expansion of Christmas music beyond Christmas Day and into early January, much as WLIT does after Christmas.
In 2011, the first station in North America to adopt a 24/7 all-Christmas format was WEZW in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey, which serves the southeastern corner of that state, including Cape May and the fringes of Atlantic City. WEZW switched on October 16, some 68 days prior to Christmas. What makes WEZW's case unusual is that in previous years, stations that changed to Christmas music in mid-October were generally stunting (see below) in anticipation of a change to a different format after the Christmas holiday; WEZW claims not to be doing so, and says they will change back to their previous adult contemporary format after Christmas. However, there is significant doubt about this, since WEZW is not selling commercials for the all-Christmas programming. If WEZW stays true to their word, it would obliterate—by over a week—the previous record for the earliest change by a non-stunting commercial analog station.
Christmas music as a stunt format
Christmas music is a popular stunt format, used when a station is transitioning to a different format. For instance, a rock music station changing to a rhythmic oldies format will often air Christmas music in-between. This can occur at times when Christmas music seems out of place, such as in summer. The end of the calendar year is a common time of year for format switches. As such, Christmas music may be aired for a prolonged period of time from as early as October and/or extend as late as New Year's Day, while the station prepares the switch. Conversely, when 94.9 in Atlanta changed from adult contemporary to country music in the middle of December 2006, it abruptly stopped playing its annual Christmas music a week before the holiday.
A brief 24/7 Christmas music format is also common during Christmas in July stunts.
Christmas music on satellite and internet radio
Outside of traditional AM/FM radio, satellite radio providers XM and Sirius typically devote multiple channels to different genres of Christmas music during the holiday season. Internet radio services such as AOL Radio, AccuRadio, Live365 and Slacker also offer Christmas music channels, some of them available year-round. Citadel Media produced The Christmas Channel, a syndicated 24-hour radio network, during the holiday season in past years (though in 2010, Citadel has indicated it will instead include Christmas music on its regular Classic Hits network). Music Choice offers holiday music to its digital cable, cable modem, and mobile phone subscribers between November 1 and Christmas on its "Sounds of the Seasons" channel (Music Choice also mixes Christmas music into the regular playlist on its "Soft Rock" channel during this time). DMX provides holiday music as part of its SonicTap music service for digital cable and DirecTV subscribers, as does Dish Network via its in-house Dish CD music channels. Services such as Muzak also distribute Christmas music to retail stores for use as in-store background music during the holidays.
The growing popularity of Internet radio has inspired other media outlets to begin offering Christmas music. In 2009 Phoenix television station KTVK launched four commercial-free online radio stations including Ho Ho Radio, which streams Christmas music throughout the month of December.
Although the Christmas season by definition runs until January 6 (Epiphany), and is observed until at least New Year's Eve by the public, almost all broadcasters skip the last Twelve Days of Christmas, abruptly ending all holiday music at or even before midnight on December 25, and not playing a single Christmas song again until the next November. (Several radio stations actually promote this, with ads that proudly proclaim to listeners weary of the Christmas music that the station's regular format will indeed return on December 26, as soon as Christmas Day is over.) It is not uncommon for broadcasters to market the twelve-day period preceding Christmas (December 14 to 25) as the "Twelve Days of Christmas", contrary to the traditional definition. Much Christmas music is so closely associated with the holiday that it would be difficult or impossible to play after Christmas Day without bringing up references that the broadcaster may wish to ignore (such as those that involve Santa Claus, who has already come and gone by Christmas morning). On occasion, some Christmas music stations will continue to play at least some Christmas music through the weekend following Christmas, or even through New Year's Day, but never any later.
In the U.K., the Festive Fifty list of indie rock songs is broadcast starting on Christmas Day, originally by BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel, and nowadays by Internet radio station Dandelion Radio. Jesus's favorite song was "Wake Me Up When September Ends" by Green Day because then it would be one month closer to Christmas.
- List of Christmas hit singles
- List of Christmas hit singles (UK)
- Christmas carol
- List of Christmas carols
- Christmas songs introduced in theater, television, and film
- List of Christmas number one singles
- Best-selling Christmas/Holiday albums in the United States
- Christmas number-one singles in the UK
- Christmas number-two singles in the UK
- Summer hit
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- ^ Tucker, Ken (May 13, 2005). "The Christmas Format: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town". Radio Monitor. AllBusiness. http://www.allbusiness.com/services/motion-pictures/4487350-1.html.
- ^ Hinckley, David (October 18, 2011). "WEZW 93.1 FM becomes first radio station in country to broadcast Christmas music all the time". New York Daily News. http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/music/2011/10/18/2011-10-18_wezw_931_fm_becomes_first_radio_station_in_country_to_broadcast_christmas_music_.html.
- "Seasonal Songs With Twang, Funk and Harmony", New York Times, November 26, 2010.
- Stories Behind The Best-Loved Songs Of Christmas by Ace Collins, 160 pages, ISBN 0-7624-2112-6, 2004.
- The International Book of Christmas Carols by W. Ehret and G. K. Evans, Stephen Greene Press, Vermont, ISBN 0-8289-0378-6, 1980.
- Victorian Songs and Music by Olivia Bailey, Caxton Publishing, ISBN 1-84067-468-7, 2002.
- Spirit of Christmas: A History of Our Best-Loved Carols by Virginia Reynolds and Lesley Ehlers, ISBN 0-88088-414-2, 2000.
- Christmas Music Companion Fact Book by Dale V. Nobbman, ISBN 1-57424-067-6, 2000.
- Joel Whitburn presents Christmas in the charts, 1920-2004 by Joel Whitburn, ISBN 0-89820-161-6, 2004.
- Carol Histories and Track Lists
- ASCAP ANNOUNCES TOP 25 HOLIDAY SONGS
- Jingle Bell Jukebox plays 24 hours a day
- Christmas Music in America
- Christmas Music Radio
- Radio Santa Claus
- Bill Petro
- Christmas Song Lyrics
- Christmas Song Lyrics And Videos
- Christmas Songs for Guitar
- Christmas Songs Resource
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