Twelve Traditions Christmas, Pt 4 – Fairytale of New York and Carol Singing

Ok, so I’m kind of cheating with this post, both are music!  The music part turned out to be quite long by itself so I have split in to two parts.  Besides you can’t get more different than Fairytale of New York and a Christmas Carol!


Whilst I am writing this I have a Top Of The Pops 2 Christmas special on in the background…Christmas songs…love them or hate them it is very hard to avoid them!   What’s your favourite Christmas song?  Maybe it’s a traditional carol, or a chart song or something else?

Mine is, as you may have noticed (!), the fabulous Fairytale of New York by Kirsty MacColl and The Pogues.  I just love it.  You can watch the making of the video here (it’s in 6 parts, enjoy!).  My second favourite is Jonah Lewie’s ‘Stop the Cavalry’, which was never actually meant to be a Christmas song but ended up sounding like one, so is forever known as one.

In the UK great importance is placed on what will be number one for Christmas Day (Fairytale of New York never reached no 1).  Well, the media seem to get very excited about it anyway!  I’m not really sure why there is so much excitement surrounding it.  It doesn’t seem to matter in other countries (readers in other countries might like to comment on this, especially if I am wrong!)

Here is a list of Christmas number one’s.  As you can see, Christmas is also definitely the silly season for novelty songs!  Mr Blobby and Bob The Builder anyone?  And what can you say about St Winifred’s School Choir?!   Anyone lucky enough to not know about these, do have a little googling session!  I would love to know if the same thing happens to your chart at this time of the year!

There doesn’t seem to be many ‘new’ Christmas songs around these days, but I think that probably has a lot to do with X Factor (UK).  Since X Factor began it has tended to ‘own’ the number one spot for Christmas with the winner outselling everyone else.  Everyone seems to have given up trying ever since.  Shame! We could do with a few new songs to be bored stiff of/amused by the cheesiness of (delete as appropriate) every year!

Two years ago Rage Against The Machine were number one for Christmas which was both brilliant and amusing!  Someone decided they were sick of X factor winners taking the festive top spot so they ran a Facebook protest urging people to but the RATM song Killing In The Name.  Awesome! This year it looks as though the X Factor winners may be ‘beaten to the top spot’ by some Army wives from another reality tv show!


I haven’t forgotten Christmas Carols…Have you ever been Carol Singing?  It was quite good fun but I got very cold and have never done it since.  Not really my thing but they do sound nice!  Our pagan ancestors used to sing songs around the time of the winter solstice, they weren’t actually Carols though.  However, once Christmas began to be celebrated by early Christians they replaced the pagan celebratory songs with their own versions.

The most famous Carol service held every year on Christmas Eve is The Festival of Nine Lessons which is held in Kings College Chapel, Cambridge every Christmas Eve.  The service has been held since 1918 and is now broadcast around the world every year.  People queue for hours to get in.  As someone who feels the cold easily the thought makes me shiver!

‘Gloria in Excelsis’ was the first ever carol.  Have you ever tried singing it?  Impossible, especially when you have an over enthusiastic church choir leading you!  I haven’t been to a church service for years but one of the things I remember well is the church choir on that song! Phew!

I have just discovered (and I plead ignorance!) that Joy To The World counts as a Christmas Carol, so I am claiming that as my favourite Carol!

Would love to hear your thoughts on songs/carols!


About Maria Explores...

Blogger and Freelance Writer
This entry was posted in Cambridge, Customs and Traditions, History, Miscellaneous and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Twelve Traditions Christmas, Pt 4 – Fairytale of New York and Carol Singing

  1. snagglewordz says:

    This is really interesting. I did wonder about the whole number one thing in the UK after watching Love Actually. Having the number one spot was an entire storyline! The Christmas number one is definitely not a big deal in New Zealand. Fairytale of New York is one of my favourites too. Brilliant song.

  2. mariawriter says:

    Glad you found it interesting 🙂

    I didn’t realise that about Love Actually…would you believe I have never seen it?!!!

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