My Best and Worst Lists of Christmas Songs

peanuts singing christmas carols

I grew up hearing many different Christmas songs, and many of them were the classic ones that center around Christ. I don’t hear these very much on radio stations today.

Also, in the era in which I grew up, we still had Christmas carolers wandering our neighborhoods and gathering to sing under our houses’ windows and at our front doors. It was such an awesome and beautiful experience. It really put you in the Christmas spirit, and you felt connected to your neighbors.

So, I’ve decided to make lists of the good and bad Christmas songs, in my opinion.

The Good List

Traditional songs

We Three Kings

Joy to the World

Silent Night

O Holy Night

Away in the Manger

Silver Bells

O Come All Ye Faithful

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Little Drummer Boy

Jolly Old Saint Nicholas

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

O Christmas Tree

Do You Hear What I Hear?

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

White Christmas

 

Good Generic and Pop Rock Christmas Songs

Do They Know It’s Christmas Time (Band Aid)

Last Christmas (only Wham!’s version)

Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Bruce Springsteen)

 

The Bad List

Santa Baby (can’t stand this song)

Baby It’s Cold Outside (Not because of newest political reasons. Don’t like the musical arrangement and has stupid lyrics. Never liked it)

All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth (ugh)

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (hate it)

 

Average “OK” Christmas Songs

Jingle Bells

Jingle Bell Rock

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Deck the Halls

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Sleigh Ride

Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time (I’m the only person who likes this song)

The 12 Days of Christmas

 

Funny Christmas Songs

The 12 Pains of Christmas

 

I didn’t list all the Christmas songs out there, just the ones worth noting from my point of view. Which Christmas songs are your favorites, and which ones make the Bad List for you?

 

 

 

 

Feeling the Holiday Burn Before Its Turn

12 days of Christmas 1

The original time for celebrating Christmas is Christmas Day and the eleven days following it leading up to and finishing on Epiphany/Holy Theophany.

Therefore, I like to start the decorating and putting up of the Christmas tree in early December.

But today, you’d think that was odd or old fashioned seeing how each year, stores are laden with glistening trees and decorations are stuffed on stores’  shelves way before December. In fact, they now clutter stores even before Halloween.

Goodness. Who wants to start stressing over buying Christmas gifts that early when you’ve not even bought your kiddies their Halloween costumes or purchased a plethora of super sweet candy?

And what about Thanksgiving?

Oh, we know that pops up between Halloween and Christmas because in the thicket of bobble-filled Christmas trees, Halloween masks, and mounds of candy, a plump turkey struts in and announces it’s that time of year to be eaten, even if you eat turkey in the form of lunch meats and bacon during the rest of the year.

For a moment in November, after you remember and honor military veterans, you remember to be thankful for all your blessings while preparing to feast on the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and the like spread out on your large dining room table.

But in the midst of dressing like a pirate and eating cream-smothered pumpkin pie, you are accosted by Christmas music before you can peel off those black-buckled pirate boots.

When you go to the store simply to restock on cleaning supplies or perhaps dog food, Rudolph and his bright red nose invade your peaceful browsing at your local store.

When you’re searching for a new set of dinner plates, the tragic melting of Frosty in the dull winter sun assaults your ears.

But that’s really just Christmas commercialism. Certainly not the holiday where you celebrate the birth of your Savior. So, in a way, you may be able to differentiate between materialistic, commercialized, consumer-centered, profit-making “Christmas,” and Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the Wisemen Christmas.

Nevertheless, my car’s satellite radio stays on classic mellow rock, R&B, or ’80s tunes until the start of December. After that, the mixture of Santa and his reindeer and Jesus in the manger plays freely in the car. At home, I pluck out Harry Connick, Jr.’s Christmas CD and play it while I put up the tree.

We pull out our favorite Christmas movie, It Happened on 5th Avenue, gather together, and watch it with tears in our eyes and smiles splitting our faces. Of course, we also watch other well-known Christmas movies, like It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, and A Charlie Brown Christmas. Yes, we even sneak in a movie with Rudolph and Santa.

Since we Orthodox Christians fast during the forty days leading up to Christ’s birth, we do all our celebrating on the original celebratory days of Christmas — the 12 Days of Christmas as I noted at the beginning of this blog post. The feasting commences, and joy and peace flow happily through the house.

So, waiting until the proper time (from my point of view) to break open the decorations and listen to various Christmas tunes, Christmas burn out doesn’t occur before Christmas Day.

Happy decorating, singing, and shopping for loved ones this Christmas season. 🙂

~*~*~*~

Holy Pascha

Christ's Resurrection

Let God Arise!  Let His enemies be scattered!

When you take the journey with Christ from His entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey, praised and honored through the laying down of palms, through the grueling walk to Golgotha, wailing with His Mother, to experiencing the thunderous, earth-trembling from His death, His descent into Hades, breaking the chains and releasing those waiting in the tombs, preaching to those who did not know Him, to witnessing His glorious Resurrection, told to us by an angel at His Tomb, your body, mind, and soul are greatly and positively affected.

Your body aches from the hours of services, for which three quarters of the time you’re standing.  Your mind is filled with the readings of his journey and what it all means.  Your heart is torn into pieces listening, watching, and reading of the scourging, mockings, spitting, and especially the words “His blood be on us and on our children.” Lord, have mercy.  *doing the sign of the cross*  That line always gets you.

swinging censor

You take in the sweet smell of incense that reminds you of the realm of God’s Kingdom, the prayers of the Saints, and that you and your brothers and sisters in the nave of His Church are with Him through all of it.  You’ve heard these passages hundreds of times, but something new and profound hits you every year this is read aloud.  This time, you’re wishing you were the thief on the cross, hoping, praying, pleading, “Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom,” and you’re dying to hear Him say, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.”

You weep when you hear His Mother, the Theotokos, wail and say to Him as He plods to His voluntary crucifixion, “”Where are you going, my Child? Why do you travel along so fast? Would there perhaps be another wedding in Cana, and you hurry there, to turn for them water into wine? Can I not come with You, my Child? Or tarry with you? Speak to me a word; You, Who are the Word. Pass me not by in silence, You, Who kept me pure. For You are my Son and my God.”  In your humanity and being a mother of two sons, the words slice through you, cutting you deeply, and you feel Mary’s pain.

But then the Panagia tells Him to hurry and rise on the third day so that she can see Him glorified:  “O my Son, where has the beauty of Your form vanished?  I cannot bear to see You unjustly crucified; hasten, therefore, and rise up, that I too may behold Your Resurrection from the dead on the third day.”  You realize that the Theotokos knew and understood immediately what Christ had been saying before His crucifixion that He’d rise on the third day, whereas all but one of the Apostles fled in confusion, fear, and sorrow.  Beloved Apostle John stood by the Cross with Christ’s Mother and the other women.

Pictured below:

Christ crucified.  Holy Thursday evening is the Twelve Gospels Service that follows Christ’s Passion and Crucifixion.  Our bishop was present for this service, so instead of being three hours, it was four.  This night’s service is the longest, but this was the longest I’ve ever encountered, but it didn’t matter.  When you experience such profound, glorious, and heart-wrenching events, you’re undone, heart, soul, body, mind, but in a good way.

Christ crucified Annunciation GOC

This is the kouvouklion — Christ’s Tomb — that the ladies of my church decorate each year ( took this picture personally on Friday.  It is from my church).  Gorgeous.  It is carried around the church Friday evenings for the Lamentations service, where we join Joseph of Arimathea in carrying Christ’s body to the new Tomb.

kouvouklion Annunciation GOC Holy Week 2018

Video taken by me at our “home” parish back in Colorado Springs, Colorado, (2011) that gives you a glimpse into Holy Saturday morning’s Divine Liturgy where Christ descends into Hades and destroys its chains and gates and opens the tombs.  The pounding we made (and wish all Orthodox Churches did this) is to symbolize the breaking open of the gates and chains and the tombs.  The priest throws basil leaves and flowers symbolizing Christ’s victory and that He is King and Lord. (It isn’t unusual that after the two and a half hour service the night before that this service is less attended, which is unfortunate because it’s such a beautiful and joyous experience).

Holy Saturday evening’s Resurrection Service is held around midnight with a vigil and then the Divine Liturgy.

Here’s a video from an Orthodox Church of a few years ago that shows what happens around midnight when the priest announces, “Come receive the Light,” which the candle represents Christ’s descent into Hades and darkness and through His Resurrection, the Light has come into the world and has trampled down Death by His death.  After His entrance, you, along with your brothers and sisters in Christ, say joyously and triumphantly, “Christ is Risen!” and will chant this verse over and over again that early Sunday morning and the next several Sundays:

Christ is risen from the dead,

trampling down death by death, 

and upon those in the tombs,

bestowing Life.

The Holy Fire descends on the Tomb of Christ inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem every Holy Saturday.  The Greek Orthodox Patriarch receives the Holy Fire that miraculously lights his bundle of thirty-three candles each year).  Here’s a video of this mystical and miraculous event from today:

At the end of the liturgy, you receive a red egg that symbolizes the blood of Christ, and Life.  You gather with your family and brethren in the hall for some food and drink, and crack eggs with them.  The cracking of the eggs symbolizes the cracking open of the tombs.  If your egg survives the cracking contest, you are blessed.

cracking red eggs Orthodox Pascha.jpg

It’s a blessing to return home each night smelling of sweet, heavenly incense, and body wrought from worshiping Christ God in body and spirit.

On Pascha Sunday, you attend the Agape Vespers Service where the proclamation of Christ’s Resurrection is read in several different languages.  The most common languages spoken are English, Greek, Arabic, Latin, Albanian, Spanish, German, French, and sometimes Japanese and Swahili.  Others also may be said if there are parishioners who know that language or come from the country that speaks that particular language.  You enjoy hearing the Good News in many tongues, showing this message is universal.

You enjoy a Paschal picnic of lamb and all other types of meat, etc., and Pascha sweet bread, called Tsoureki in Greek.  We got one this year from the women’s monastery a few hours away:

Greek Pascha sweet bread.jpg

 

Christ is Risen!  Truly He is Risen!