« Make Up Our Minds | Main | On Wonkery »

December 23, 2005


This certainly makes my unabashed love of Christmas Carols seem less traitorous:

The following Christmas carols were written by Jews: "O Holy Night" (Adolphe Adam), "Christmas Song" (Mel Torme), "White Christmas" (Irving Berlin), "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" (Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne), "Silver Bells" (Jay Livingston and Ray Evans) and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reinder" (Johnny Marks).

And, as Safron Foer (who wrote the guide to Christmas this is lifted from) points out, Jews made the biggest contribution of all: the birthday boy.

December 23, 2005 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Christmakkah:


"O Holy Night" is probably the finest Christmas carol ever.

Posted by: verplanck colvin | Dec 23, 2005 11:26:32 AM




You have a better understanding of what Christmas really is than most Christians.

Posted by: Stephen | Dec 23, 2005 11:36:40 AM




You have a better understanding of what Christmas really is than most Christians.

Posted by: Stephen | Dec 23, 2005 11:37:45 AM

Irving Berlin also wrote the lesser-known song commemorating a Christian holiday, "Easter Parade."

And it was the music of O Holy Night that was composed by Adolphe Adam. The lyrics were written by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure.

Posted by: Constantine | Dec 23, 2005 11:46:43 AM

Does anyone know exactly where the Three Kings were from? If I ever move into a religious community that does nativity plays or some such, I'll try to get a part as the Frankincense guy. I like the idea that a Hindu showed up at the Nativity and was like, "Hey, it's another God! Good thing I'm a polytheist! Man, ain't he the spitting image of the baby Krishna. Here, let me light some incense. Om."

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Dec 23, 2005 11:51:17 AM

Does anyone know exactly where the Three Kings were from?

Arabia, Babylon, and Persia are popular choices for the trio. (yes, even India has been floated as a possibility, Neil, so you can get your wish) "The Magi" [aka "Kings"] refers to the priestly caste of the Babylonians and Persians. The bit about "following a star" implies the use of astrology, which the Babylonians were famous for. The gospels simply mention "the east."

Posted by: Constantine | Dec 23, 2005 12:18:36 PM

Cool! and the Indian guy is the one who brings the Frankincense! Awright, I'm believing this.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Dec 23, 2005 12:37:05 PM

Bah, Humbug!

Any song, no matter what its intrinsic merits, becomes intolerable after the fortieth or fiftieth involuntary listening. I try to stay indoors, where I am in control of the stereo, until all this enforced jollity, with its wall-to-wall holiday muzak, has passed us by for another year.

And as to the provenance of the carols themselves, why it matters a whit is beyond me. I'm an atheist, but I don't feel somehow validated just because some other atheist, somewhere in the annals of history, might have produced a catchy tune or a beautiful painting. Nor do I feel guilty for appreciating the artistic achievements of non-atheists.

But hey, whatever floats your boat I guess...

Posted by: zeke | Dec 23, 2005 1:47:58 PM

The 'holiday' music is fine in its place, but that place should not be in malls, retail stores, etc. The overkill on poor sound systems is really awful. However, it IS understandable: a quiet store won't work for sellers or buyers, and non-holiday music doesn't seem appropriate either. I just grit my teeth and tune it out.

What is the 'right place' for me? At home in the evenings, or at gatherings of friends and family, or on xmas eve and day. It also works for me in a sit-down, full service restaurant.

With the exception of Oh Holy Night, all of the songs mentioned by Ezra are non-religious, even if written by religious people - Jews in this case. Does that say something?

O'Reily alert!

Posted by: JimPortandOR | Dec 23, 2005 2:24:28 PM

Neil, Christopher Moore wrote a stupid-funny, very silly book called Lamb:The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. Exceedingly silly. I recommend it, along with Bloodsucking Fiends and The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove (same author).

Posted by: TJ | Dec 23, 2005 3:04:08 PM

What is the meaning of a child born at Winter Solstice? I presume, in principle, that children are conceived at WS, conceived when the community has excess time to be conceiving, in order to be born at Harvest Time, when the community has an excess of food. A child conceived in the Spring and born in Midwinter is an act of faith, hope, and charity in itself.

A babe in a manger is a symbol of trust in the generosity of strangers and the kindness of community. Who is this King to rule the hearts of good men?

A homeless child. Happy Holidays, y'all.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Dec 23, 2005 3:15:15 PM

"Let It Snow" is a "winter" song, rather than a "Christmas" song, though. Like "Frosty the Snowman" and "Winter Wonderland". Also known as "public-school-assembly-safe Christmas songs".

Posted by: DonBoy | Dec 23, 2005 3:37:42 PM

Wishing you all a merry and festive Holiday!


Posted by: Night Bird | Dec 23, 2005 9:52:28 PM

Jews made the biggest contribution of all...

You're right! Mary, Joseph and Jesus were all Jews!
This is the time Christians celebrate the birth of the savior of the world.

A warm and very merry Christmas to you all!!

Posted by: Fred Jones | Dec 24, 2005 8:54:53 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.