Monday, December 1, 2008

Pondering Fact Versus Fiction Regarding A Popular Song and Santa Claus

This is a post dealing with one of my most absurd and ridiculous 'beefs' during this time of year.

It is too be taken very seriously by only those who find it a serious matter to ponder.

The song "Jingle Bells" has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, Santa Claus, elves, Christmas cheer, or any holiday during the month of December.

The song was written in 1857 and the Reverend who wrote it, wrote it for the Thanksgiving holiday and NOT Christmas.

Here are the lyrics:

Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O'er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bob tails ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to laugh and sing
A sleighing song tonight

Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh

A day or two ago
I thought I'd take a ride
And soon Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
We got into a drifted bank
And then we got upsot

Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh yeah

Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh

Here are some particulars:

Believe it or not Jingle Bells, one of the most famous American Christmas songs, was originally written for Thanksgiving! The author and composer of Jingle Bells was a minister called James Pierpoint who composed the song in 1857 for children celebrating his Boston Sunday School Thanksgiving.

It is true that folks seemed to have glammed onto the concept that because bells are rung during the Christmas season and they have the misguided notion that Santa's reindeer wore bells, that the song could be considered fit for use when thinking about that 'right jolly old elf'.

Here's a bit of news though, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder, Blitzen, and Rudolf were never described to have worn or still wear bells of any kind.

There are no references to any wearing of bells by hoofed animals in "A Visit From Saint Nicholas" a poem written by Clement C. Moore in 1822.

If you look at the dates of the writing of the song and the writing of the poem, supposedly a first-person account of an actual witnessing of the activities of one Saint Nicholas, there is a separation of 35 years between the time the poem was written and the song was written.

Associating "Jingle Bells" with Santa Claus or anything else to do with Christmas or gift-giving is quite incorrect and should be banished forever, by everyone!

Please go back and read the lyrics of the song, especially the second verse that so few people ever sing.

The word "upsot" is not found in the online version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

With further investigation, the word has been used as a nautical term to refer to something that has capsized, like turning over.

"Upsot" has also been referred to as being more like the word, upset, which also can mean being turned over.

It appears that "Jingle Bells" is a rather sad jingle about a fellow who tries to take a wonderful ride with his girlfriend and the sleigh gets turned over because the one horse that is pulling the sleigh gets startled.

But wait! There is more!

Here are the remaining verses that are rarely, if ever sung:

A day or two ago
The story I must tell I
went out on the snow
And on my back I fell;
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh
He laughed at me as I there sprawling laid
But quickly drove away.

Now the ground is white,
Go it while you're young,
Take the girls along
And sing this sleighing song.
Just bet a bob-tailed bay,
Two-forty as his speed,
Hitch him to an open sleigh
and crack! You'll take the lead.

With these last two verses we find that not only were there folks who laughed at others' misfortune, there were suggestions provided to enhance a gentleman's charm with the ladies by doing less than safe things with a horse and sleigh.

None of this could possibly be seen as appropriate for that 'right jolly old elf'.

We all know that Santa Claus would never be able to do his doings on Christmas Eve using just one horse and even if only one horse were available, it could not possibly pull a sleigh large enough to carry all those presents all around the World.

We also all know that there are many other songs that are more to the spirit of Christmas.

There was a Herald Angel named Hark who sung about glory towards a newborn King.

Then there is 'everybody knows a turkey' song. It provides wording that allow us to dream of good things at Christmas time.

When Bing dreamed of children listening for 'sleigh bells in the snow' there was no mention of any animals having those bells on them. It could be just wind blowing against the bells that are attached to the parked sleigh.

I also think that if folks are going to put up their Christmas tree and then call that particular season a 'holiday' season, then they should also be commanded to put up trees for Veterans' Day, Memorial Day, and other holidays throughout the year.

For folks who consider "Happy Holidays" as the only way to call the Christmas holiday season, they should state "Happy Holidays" on the first day of every year and then not again until the first day of the next year.

If folks want others to have 'happy holidays' then they should hope for that happiness on every holiday throughout the year, including New Year's Day!

Saying it only once as the beginning of each year should cover all the holidays and everyone, all at once, and not leaving any holiday out.

When we don't wish for people to have a happy holiday on Presidents' Day, are we suggesting we want them to have a bad day, that day?

I have no particular reason that I would not continue to wish anyone "Merry Christmas" unless I know that I should be wishing them 'happy something else'.

I don't think it is fun to fast during the days during Ramadan, so wishing folks "Happy Ramadan" might not be the best thing to do.

It is a very good idea to wish that folks who cherish the festival of lights and the miracle of the lamp staying lit for eight nights, a happy time.

I'm still working on finding out how tiny Santa's sleigh pulling team is, how small his "miniature sleigh" really is, and how small Santa Claus is compared to other elves.

You all must know by now that the Santa Claus portrayed at shopping malls and originally illustrated by the Coca-Cola company is NOT the size of the real Santa Claus.

It must have been out of necessity that folks enlarged Santa's size to allow children to sit on his lap. Most kids nowadays would crush Santa's thigh or knee if they sat on him.

To all of you who believe, Merry Christmas!

Happy Festivus to the rest of us!

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