Jews and Christmas Music – it ain’t Chinese Food! by Debra H. Goldstein

christmas-musicJews and Christmas Music – it ain’t Chinese Food by Debra H. Goldstein

I’m Jewish, but I have a confession to make. I love Christmas music. There is something about listening to the songs that makes me feel good. Apparently, I’m not the only Jewish person who feels this way about these holiday songs. According to the American Society of Composers and Publishers, almost half of the top twenty-five Christmas songs have music or lyrics written by Jewish composers.

Most people are aware that White Christmas was written by Irving Berlin. Irving’s given name when he was growing up on the Lower East side was Israel Baline. Although he wasn’t observant and didn’t deny his Jewish heritage, it is ironic that he wrote the music for perhaps the most well-known Christmas song, as well as Easter Parade.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Holly Jolly Christmas, and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree were all written by Johnny Marks. Jay Livingston and Walter Evans are responsible for the words and music of Silver Bells. Walter Kent composed the music for I’ll Be Home for Christmas, which was written as a tribute to the soldiers stationed overseas who dreamed of being home for Christmas. We also wouldn’t think about chestnuts roasting on an open fire if Mel Torme and Bob Wells hadn’t chinese-foodpenned The Christmas Song.

My point is simple. No matter what our religion, race, sexual preference, we can find points of commonality that can lead to everlasting things of joy. Whether you are celebrating Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or anything else, here’s Chinese food and Christmas music. Happy Holidays!

27 thoughts on “Jews and Christmas Music – it ain’t Chinese Food! by Debra H. Goldstein”

  1. My mother used to be annoyed when Barbara Streisand sang Christmas Carols. Me–my new favorite is Bette Midler’s Cool Yule! Who cares, it’s all great music, and I’m betting she didn’t know the composers of all the songs you’ve researched. Thanks for a great post. Have a wonderful holiday, Deb!

    1. Hope you have a great holiday, too. When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to hear the Christmas songs….and I never gave a thought to who sang them, let alone wrote them……as you noted, It’s all great music.

  2. Great article!! I love Christmas music too.
    We sang them in school many years ago so I know most of the words and often sing along😉

    1. Same here….and we never gave a thought to which songs were being sung. By the time I had kids, Chanukah and Christmas songs were alternated in the program …. and we found that there were great ones for all to listen to. (But, I’m a bit partial to the Christmas songs….especially when they’re played in July).

  3. I’m one of those who wants Christmas music as early as possible. It’s feel-good stuff! Our first child’s favorite song for a long time was Jingle Bells. I remember us belting it out in July once, stopped for a red light, him in the back in his car seat and our windows rolled down. We got a funny look, then a smile from the people in the car beside us.

    I love your closing sentiment, too. Very apt!

    1. Thanks, Kaye. I’m sure it was a joyful smile that your son received because I can just imagine him bouncing along singing it at the top of his lungs. I hope the sentiment has been carried down to the next generation.

  4. Thanks, Deb, for a humorous but to the point post! Enjoy all that great Christmas music and Happy Chanukah to you!

    Love, Kathy

    1. Kathy,
      Glad you enjoyed the post….every now and then, a few words can make a big point. Hope you and yours have a very happy holiday season (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year). Also glad you are feeling better….must have been some bug to get you down. Debra

  5. If more people shared in the celebrations of others, we would have a better understanding of each other. The first Christmas card we receive each year comes from our Jewish next door neighbors. They wish us a merry Christmas, and we wish them all the best for Chanukah. We’ve shared in their Passover meal and they’ve come to our Christmas celebrations. It gives us both more things to celebrate each year, and we are good neighbors to each other.

    Debra, have a wonder Chanukah with your family and friends.

    1. Grace, thank you. Let me also wish you an early Merry Christmas. May the holiday season be a special one for you and yours. … and I agree, understanding of each other comes from sharing thoughts and traditions.

  6. “Musick has charms to soothe the savage breast.” Praying the world finds points of commonality to start off a new year in search of peace for a change. Happy New Year y’all–that works I think. Lovely article, Debra, full of good points. Marilyn Johnston (aka cj petterson)

  7. Barbara Streisand’s singing of Ava Maria brings tears to my eyes.The joy and meaning of music is in the “ear” of the beholder. Merry Christmas…music. And Happy Chanukah.

  8. All of the Christmas songs you mentioned are secular and great holiday music–even though the songs do mention Christmas or the season. I love them, but as a Christian my favorites are the carols. Great post, and all the best of the season to you and yours!

    1. Marilyn,
      You make a good point about the carols. Because I don’t view those as “pop” or seasonal music tied to popular or tin alley writers, but as truly evolving from a historical religious background, I didn’t include them. They, too, are beautiful.

  9. This is a delightful and informative post. I love learning about other holidays and participating in them if possible. When I lived in India, I was often invited to holiday celebrations and they were fascinating and joyful. May you and all your readers have the joy of the season.

  10. Debra, I love your attitude and I share it with you. Christmas songs are full of good cheer and love and I don’t care who sings them or who wrotethem. I’ll pass on the Chinese food though.

    1. Early,
      You can have any kind of food you want during the holiday season — we all make our own traditions, but it is a joy that we can share the music of the holiday. Hope you have a wonderful holidays.

    2. Earl,
      No problem letting you pass on the Chinese food. Do you substitute barbecue or ??? Whatever, it is a joy that we can share the feelings of the holidays and the beauty of the music. Happy Holidays.

  11. Chinese Food is pretty good. Christmas carols, meh. I enjoy a few; but with so many, I get tired of them. I agree an open mind and sharing the spirit is good for us all. Have a good holiday season and Happy Chanukah.

    1. Ann,
      In the old days, I listened to the music non-stop because the radio station I tuned into played them from Thanksgiving to Christmas day. Now, it is a treat to hear the music because with Sirius, I tend to have my radio tuned to another station. When it was six weeks of music, I did sometimes hope for a new version of a tune, but the bottom line, as you point out, is remembering to share the seasonal joy. Happy holidays!

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