Holiday Carols for the Season
Nothing can get you into the holiday spirit quite like holiday carols.

Holiday Carols are a great way to spread the holiday spirit and really get people in the Christmas mood.

Traditionally, a holiday carol is a religious song of joy linked to a particular season. Most people associate carols with Christmas. Many of the most popular carols sung in churches were written in the Victorian age.




Holiday Carols for Caroling

  • “Do You Hear What I Hear?” is a fairly recent song made popular by Bing Crosby. It was actually written as a plea for peace during the Cuban missile crisis, but the writer, Noël Regney, was inspired to add the Christmas lyrics.
  • “Here We Come A-wassailing” is from the English tradition of orphans and beggars dancing and singing in the streets hoping to get treats and drinks from the homes of the gentry during the Christmas season.
  • “Mary, Did You Know?” debuted in 1991 and has become a very popular Christmas song.
  • “O Holy Night” was added to the list of Christmas carols by French poet Placide Cappeau. Adolphe Adam, a French composer, wrote the music. Opera singer Emily Laurey was the first to sing the tune, but there are many current renditions of this familiar song that reflects on the birth of Jesus.
  • “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” was given to us by Charles Wesley, but George Whitefield gave us the adaptation we’re more familiar with today. Felix Mendelssohn’s music was adapted by an English composer to fit the words and phrasing.
  • “The Little Drummer Boy” might have been made popular by the 1968 television special, but it was actually recorded by the Austrian Trapp Family Singers in 1951. “The Little Drummer Boy” is a carol from Czechoslovakia, which has been recorded multiple times by many popular singers.
  • “Joy to the World” is said to be the most-published Christmas carol in North America. Isaac Watts wrote the lyrics, basing them on Psalm 98. The music is thought to be based on the “Messiah” oratorio by George Frideric Handel, but there is no actual evidence to support this.

Other Holiday Staples


  • “What Child Is This?” is more popular in North America than in its birthplace of England. The tune is from a traditional English folk song, “Greensleeves.” William Chatterton Dix wrote the lyrics for the Christmas carol, which has been recorded by many popular artists for special Christmas albums.
  • “Mary, Did You Know?” debuted in 1991 and has become a very popular Christmas song. Michael English was the first to record it, but Clay Aiken, Cee Lo Green and Pentatonix have all created their own version of the song.
  • “O Holy Night” was added to the list of Christmas carols by French poet Placide Cappeau. Adolphe Adam, a French composer, wrote the music. Opera singer Emily Laurey was the first to sing the tune, but there are many current renditions of this familiar song that reflects on the birth of Jesus.
  • “We Three Kings of Orient Are” was written in the mid-19th century by an American clergyman who served in the Episcopal Church. It’s actually about an event that occurred after the birth of Christ, but it remains a popular Christmas song.
  • “Angels from the Realms of Glory” was written by Scottish poet James Montgomery and first published in 1816. The music was added later, with English and American versions to different tunes.
  • “O Little Town of Bethlehem” was penned by Phillips Brooks, a priest in the Episcopal Church. His organist would add the music. Neither believed that the hymn would outlive the first performance during the 1868 Christmas season, but it’s one of the most popular Christmas carols today.

Expand Your Caroling Horizon

This year, as you sing the Christmas music of your faith, think about the message in the words. Remember that the season is about family and friends, Christ’s birth and goodwill toward all. Be kind toward each other and consider that not everyone celebrates Christmas as you know it. “Happy Holidays” is a greeting that encompasses many different faiths. Use it when in doubt.

Making Atonement During Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur Letterpress

Yom Kappur is considered a day of atonement.

The Jewish community celebrates the New Year in the fall. They call the holiday Rosh Hashanah. It begins a period of 10 days known as the High Holy Days and commences with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Yom Kippur is probably the most sacred holiday to the Jews. Even secular Jews attend synagogue. It might be the only day some Jews go to temple, much like Christians attending church service on Easter or Christmas Eve. You may not be Jewish, or even believe that there is a supreme being; however, you can learn from this holiday and approach the upcoming traditional holiday season with a clean slate.

Traditions of Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is the day when Jews make apologies to God for their sins. In order to approach God, it’s traditional to fast and pray for 24 hours. In addition to fasting, Jews do not have marital relations, do not wear leather shoes, do not wash and do not bathe during Yom Kippur. Orthodox Jews may immerse in a mikveh before Yom Kippur as a symbol of purity. Many Jews will wear white, as another way of presenting themselves as pure.

Prayers of repentance are said during services at the synagogue. Public and private atonement is made before God, depending on the desire of the individual. The process of asking for forgiveness is called Teshuva. It involves:

  • Regret of having committed the sin
  • A resolve not to commit the sin in the future
  • Confession before God

Also, Jews will give charity to those less fortunate on Yom Kippur. This year, Yom Kippur falls on October 12, but it actually begins at sunset on the day before and ends at nightfall on the actual day. Following Yom Kippur, families might have a feast in celebration of completing the fast.

What We Can Learn

In 1982, the band Chicago came out with a song, “Hard to Say I’m Sorry.” The song might be referencing two lovers who had a disagreement, but most of us, if we were really honest, don’t like to admit when we’re wrong or we’ve done something to injure another person’s feelings. Maybe you don’t believe in God, but it’s probable that you may have hurt someone in the past. We all make mistakes and say things that we probably should have thought about before opening our mouth or typing them at the keyboard. Learning how the Jews apologize to God, we can actually learn how to apologize to others.

Have you ever said to someone, “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “I’m sorry if I hurt you”? Take a second to look at those phrases. Although it may seem like a case of semantics, you might make them feel as if you’re dismissing their feelings when you say those words. Are you sorry for your actions or for how they reacted to your mistake?

A better way to apologize is to say, “I’m sorry I did . . . I cannot excuse my behavior, and I won’t let it happen again. Please forgive me.” There may be extenuating circumstances. Maybe the other person made you mad, but you cannot control anyone’s behavior but your own. Think about your own attitude when you say you’re sorry. And remember that all you can do is make the apology. The other person does not have to accept your apology. It could happen that day, but it might not happen for years. Don’t make the situation worse by forcing someone to forgive you.

Christmas and the New Year are coming up. Think about making amends with family members or neighbors this year to have a clean conscious. Fix those relationships that are broken and truly celebrate the good will of the upcoming season.

The Magic of a Winter Wedding

ThinkstockPhotos-493974290December seems to be a time for getting engaged. It’s a magical time of year. There’s snow on the ground. Homes are decorated for all the upcoming festivities. Families are together for the holidays, which makes it easier to make that special announcement. After the engagement, it’s time to pick a date. Although June is a traditional month in which to hold your special day, consider a winter wedding. You’ll have a year to plan, which gives you plenty of time. But even beyond the time factor, there are many other reasons to choose the enchanting months of November through February for your wedding day.

It’s the Off-Season

Summer and fall are the most popular times of year to hold a wedding. Winter comes in dead last. Having a wedding in January means that you aren’t fighting with dozens of other couples for the same venues and vendors. You may even score a discount on your location, DJ, or photographer. It pays to ask if there is an off-season rate for a venue. Guests may get discounts on travel if your date doesn’t fall on a major holiday. Hotels often offer better pricing during winter months. Ask a travel agent about when you can get the best winter rates into your city. 

Special Considerations

When marrying in the winter, you do need to make special plans for problems that may occur. Don’t forget to consider these things when planning.

  • Inclement weather – ask the “what if we have a blizzard?” question as you are booking your vendors and venues. Many places have a weather-related cancellation policy.
  • Lighting – The days are shorter, which means you won’t have outside light for pictures if you want them. Make sure you remember to get the pictures you want before it gets dark.
  • Warmth and comfort – With summer weddings, guests can often walk from their hotel to the church or reception. You may need to make other arrangements for a winter ceremony. It may also be a good idea to have a few blankets on hand for older guests who get chilled more easily.
  • Flowers – While some flowers may be difficult to obtain, you aren’t completely limited during this season. You may even have some options that you don’t have in the summer. Check with your florist in plenty of time to order what you want.

Watch the Holidays

Roses go up in price around Valentines’ Day, and florists are extremely busy. What you saved on your reception hall may be spent on flowers or other accommodations if you aren’t aware of the dates. Taking a honeymoon over certain time frames can dramatically increase the cost too. However, if the entire family is coming home for the Christmas holidays, it could save a lot of money for your guests by holding the ceremony while they’re home. You know your family best. Think about their needs too.

The Beauty of the Season

Winter color schemes can be more dramatic than summer ones. If your reception hall offers fireplaces, you can have a cozy fire going to add to the ambiance. Candles are another way to increase lighting and improve the overall atmosphere. You may even have the option of a sleigh ride to the ceremony, instead of the traditional limo. Brides and guests can get out their furs and boots, which adds a special fashion element to the day.

Winter weddings can feel even more intimate than one held in the summer, but planning is required. Consider the special elements before you cross a January wedding off the list. You may be surprised how much the season has to offer. You’ll have an excuse to take an anniversary trip every winter thereafter. What more could you ask for?