One of the things that has always interested me about Christmas is the origins and history of our holiday. The fact that so much of the traditions and customs trace back to non-Christian religious, spiritual, and ethnic practices is well documented. The Yule Log has shared many posts about the early conversion of “pagan” or other practices to the Christmas feasts and festivals. Trees, elves, Santa Claus, food, customs, and song all are part of the rich mosaic that Christmas has formed over the centuries. Christmas has close ties to many world religions including Islam and Judaism. One of these connections has been one of the more intriguing to me- music. So many of our most popular Christmas songs were created by Jewish composers and lyricists.
Natalie and I have talked about this occurrence many times. It seems that this fact has been one of interest to many writers over the years. Never noticed this connection before? Here are some basics. More than half of the annual top 25 holiday songs compiled by ASCAP were penned by Jews. Composers like Irving Berlin and Mel Torme give us great works. Compositions include White Christmas, the Christmas Song, Christmas Waltz, Silver Bells, Rudolph, and I’ll Be Home for Christmas. There are also numerous Jewish performers that have given so many of the classic versions of holiday songs. Main Jewish artists of Christmas hits include Barbra Streisand, Neil Sedaka, Barry Manilow, and Neil Diamond. Even Bob Dylan cut a Christmas album last year. For a more interesting look at the connections read this short 2011 article from the New York Daily News. It definitely is one of the miracles of the Christmas season that so many people of such varied backgrounds can come together to celebrate peace, hope, and love.