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One of the oldest Christmas traditions is that of caroling. Other than Halloween, it’s one of the few times a year it’s thought to be okay to go door-to-door to strangers’ homes. It’s origin, however, predates Christianity. “Christmas Carols” were originally pagan songs associated with dances performed on the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. By 129 AD, Christianity had emerged and people began singing hymns during the Christmas holidays—granted, they were in Latin. Since few people could read or speak Latin, interest in carols ebbed during the Middle Ages.

By 1410, interest returned as musicians began writing hymns and carols that could be sung in French, Spanish, German, and English. These songs were often sung by traveling singers called minstrels. At one time, there were also official carol singers called “Waits” who would sing on Christmas Eve in public places in the village. Thus, the tradition of today’s caroling was born.

If Christmas caroling isn’t yet part of your family tradition but you’d like to start, here are some things to know about caroling:


You could go door-to-door to several houses in the neighborhood, but if this is your first time caroling, such a prospect might be a little intimidating. Instead, you could choose just the homes of people you know. Take your music with you, it doesn’t have to be memorized. A pitch pipe can be helpful too since a capella singing is tricky when you’re not a trained singer. If you don’t have a pitch pipe, agree on a note beforehand that will allow everyone to sing within his or her range comfortably.

Be warm

Another important point: Dress warmly so you’re not shivering and hopping on the spot as you belt out “Joy to the World.” For a fun twist that will also create some uniformity, have everyone wear matching coats or scarves or even pajamas. has warm, comfortable adult-sized footed pajamas with patterns and styles for everyone in the family.

Drop off treats

People will enjoy your singing, but they’ll enjoy your visit even more if you leave some treat or small gift with them. It doesn’t have to be big—maybe a plate of fudge or a tin of cookies. Something with a Christmas-y feel is nice. You could also attach a tag with a small Christmas message or quote that will impart even more Christmas warmth to their hearts.

Perform service

If wandering the neighborhood in the cold doesn’t appeal to you, perhaps you’d be attracted to the option of caroling indoors at an assisted living home. The elderly folks who live there love hearing singing and there’s not a much better way to feel the true spirit of Christmas than by doing service. They’ll probably even give you a hug before you go.


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well it has already passed but we have noel night in detroit. as far as i know its been going on since the mid '80's
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