Thursday, December 26, 2019

Jingle-Bell Stop

It is now, finally, the Day After Christmas. And that means the End of Christmas Music until Black Friday of 2020. It seems more like a respite than the status quo, for some reason. But while attempting to guard my mental health against the constant onslaught of "Holly-Jolly Christmas" and "Silver Bells," it occurred to me that jingle bells, or perhaps more accurately, sleigh bells, have become entirely associated with Christmas, rather than winter more broadly.

As I understand it, the purpose of bells on a sleigh was not festivity, but safety. Horses may not be completely silent, but they don't make that much noise, even when in motion. And both hoofbeats and sleigh runners can be very quiet in deep snow. So while "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" presumes either murderous intent or negligence on the part of Santa Claus, a fast-moving sleigh will not stop quickly; an old woman who steps into the path of one that she didn't hear coming is likely to come to grief.

Returning to the point, the realization that there's nothing particularly "Christmas-y" about sleigh bells becomes a reminder that many of the songs that we associate with Christmas, such as the now-controversial "Baby, It's Cold Outside," are simply about Winter itself. And winter, here in the northern hemisphere, has just started. I admit to not being all that up on the modern music scene (I have a theory that holds that all of the music in a genre that you're not that into all sounds the same.), but it seems to me that Winter music is, effectively, a sub-genre of Christmas music, and thus locked into the same Black Friday to Christmas Day constraints that genuine carols inhabit.

So while Winter may be just beginning, songs about it are mainly an Autumn phenomenon.

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