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M is for Market and Music

Posted by on December 2, 2012

What I really enjoy on the run up to Christmas is visiting different local Christmas markets. Although far more popular in Germany, you can slowly see them appearing in the UK. Traditionally the markets start on the first week of advent and stay until Christmas. You can find the most amazing gifts and foods in these street markets all the while being bombarded with the noise of songs, vendors and visitors.

When you visit one of these markets you should definitely try to taste some Gluhwein and gingerbread as well as some stollen. Here in the UK you might be lucky and also get to taste some eggnog. You really need these warming foods as you will taking ages walking past all the stalls in the cold winter’s day.

Christmas Music

You either love it or hate it – you will not be able to avoid it when you go out shopping the coming weeks. I do not mind,   but I can image as a shop worker you will go slightly insane if you hear nothing else day in day out. In early days Christmas songs were mainly religious songs performed during church mass. The popularity of Christmas songs and carol singers really kicked off in the 1900’s. The majority of songs you hear these days are written back than. Some very popular songs are:

* Go Tell It To The Mountain – this is from origin an African-American song, singing about the birth of Jesus. It was made popular by the Motown movement.
* Hark! The Herald Angels Sing  – this is one of the older ones, originating from early 1700. You will mainly hear it in church.
* Joy to The World – There are several popular versions of this one, coming from Percy Faith and Boney M. It now is one of the most published Christmas hymns in the USA.
* The Twelve Days of Christmas – an English carol written in the late 18th century, describing gifts given to a person by “my true love”.
* Silent Night – the status of this song is such that is has been declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO. Originally a German song, it was translated into English i the mid 19th century. The popularity is such that pretty much any Christmas album you buy will have a version of this song on it, with probably Bing Crosby’s version as the most famous one.

For every one of these traditional Christmas Songs you can find a whole range of modern written pop songs. Instead of celebrating the birth of Jesus or any other religious subjects, modern songs describe traditions on how to celebrate the holiday. Many will have Santa Claus as subject of their lyrics as well as of course the wonderful winter weather. It seems that most modern Christmas songs are generated through the countries of the Northern hemisphere.

Some of the most popular modern Christmas songs are:

* All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey
* Last Christmas by Wham!
* Do They Know It’s Christmas by Band Aid
* Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt
* Winter Wonderland by Richard Himber (he had the first world vanity phone number). Although you might not know this version, you will know another one as it is one of the most covered songs, having been recorded by 150 different artists. It has pretty much defined the modern pop standard of Christmas songs

Below a playlist of the songs mentioned in this post as well as some other favourites of mine. Enjoy! It’s about 1hr of songs.

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