Top Christmas Carols
What's the difference between a carol and a song? Well they're actually one in the same. A "carol" is just a different name for a song, and carols are simply songs that are about Christmas. As we mentioned on our page covering Christmas hymns, a hymn can be a carol, but a carol is not necessarily a hymn if it doesn't specifically cover the birth or life of Christ.
The history of carols is rather interesting, dating back to before the time of Christ. You see, originally there were celebrations around December 22, the date of the Winter Solstice. Their purpose was to help chase away the winter and bring back the sun, and songs or carols were sung at these celebrations, which were carried out all through Europe. As Christianity spread in later years, these old traditions were given new meaning, and the Winter Solstice celebrations and songs morphed into songs about the birth of Christ. After Christmas was well established, songs that had more to do with holiday festivities than Jesus and Christianity also became very popular. Thus today we have them both about Christmas festivities and about the birth of Christ.
Caroling, or sining in public, has been going on since the Middle Ages. Just as poor people in big cities today can be found on corners singing for money, in centuries past beggars would sing carols for food or money. In the 1500's this public singing was banned in England by Oliver Cromwell (a real Grinch!!!), which lead to people going door to door and singing carols in private. You see, they really do have a very interesting history.
- 1818 - Silent Night
- 1843 - O Come all ye Faithful
- 1862 - Angels we Have Heard on High
- 1863 - We Three Kings
- 1868 - O Little Town of Bethlehem
- 1883 - Away in a Manger
- 1916 - Carol of the Bells
- 1951 - The Twelve Days of Christmas
- 1962 - Do You Hear what I Hear
- 1956 - O Holy Night
- 1957 - Little Drummer Boy
The Best Selling Christmas Carol
White Christmas by Irving Berlin is the best selling Christmas song of all time. It is estimated to have sold approximately 350 million copies both on record and on sheet music.