Christmas Song Trivia

Did you know that carols can be traced back to as early as 1350, but most of today’s Christmas carols were written during the 18th century? You can discover entertaining facts like this and more as you test your Christmas song trivia knowledge with the tidbits below.

Increase your Christmas song trivia knowledge with this fact: Holiday carols can be traced back to the 1800’s.
Holiday carols can be traced back
to the 1800's.

What is the Origin of Holiday Carols?

In 1847, the music for "O Holy Night" was written by French composer Adolphe-Charles Adam, who also wrote the ballet Giselle. Now a mainstay for church celebrations and carolers, the song was first denounced by church authorities for its "lack of musical taste and total absence of the spirit of religion." The English words to the song were translated from French by American clergyman John Sullivan Dwight.

In 1857, James Pierpont, musical director at his brother's Unitarian church, was inspired to write a song about the rollicking sleigh races he watched as a young man. "Jingle Bells" was first published as "One Horse Open Sleigh," and though it was well liked from the beginning, it really took off when the Hayden Quartet recorded it in 1902.

Pastor Phillips Brooks wrote the words to "O Little Town of Bethlehem" in 1867, recalling the view of Bethlehem from the hills of Palestine at night. His church organist, Lewis Redner, added the music so that the children's choir could sing the song. The song "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" is usually considered anonymous, but some people claim that it was written by Wilf Carter, also known as country singer Montana Slim.

What is the Biggest Selling Christmas Song of all time?

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, "White Christmas" has sold more than 100 million copies around the world. The song was written by Irving Berlin and recorded by Bing Crosby for the 1942 musical Holiday Inn.

The song appeared again in the 1954 film White Christmas, which starred Crosby. According to the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), there are more than 500 versions of "White Christmas" in dozens of languages, making it the most recorded holiday song.

Released annually since 1942, the song's last chart appearance was in 1998, when it reached number 29 in the United Kingdom.

Who has recorded "Everybody's Doing the Jingle Bell Rock?"

Christmas Song Trivia: Artists from Neil Diamond to Hilary Duff have recorded
Artists from Neil Diamond to Hilary Duff have recorded "Jingle Bell Rock."

Released in 1957, "Jingle Bell Rock" has been a favorite of recording artists for nearly 50 years. Who has recorded this tune?

  • 1957 Bobby Helms
  • 1961 Chet Atkins
  • 1961 Eddy Arnold
  • 1961 Bobby Rydell and Chubby Checker
  • 1962 Bobby Vee
  • 1963 The Platters
  • 1964 Brenda Lee
  • 1968 Herb Alpert
  • 1969 Johnny Mathis
  • 1970 Bobby Sherman
  • 1971 Lynn Anderson
  • 1984 Elmo & Patsy
  • 1990 Wild Rose
  • 1992 Neil Diamond
  • 1992 Glen Campbell
  • 1993 Vince Gill
  • 1994 John Anderson
  • 1995 Dion
  • 1996 Flash Cadillac
  • 1999 George Strait
  • 1999 Amy Grant
  • 2000 Billy Gilman
  • 2000 Ricky Van Shelton
  • 2003 Hilary Duff

In what year did the World’s Largest Caroling Service take place?

The world's largest caroling service took place December 20, 2003, as recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records. Organized by the City of Cambridge in Ontario, Canada, 1,175 carolers sang Christmas songs in the Civic Square for 28 minutes.

What is The Vienna Boys' Choir?

Giving voice to the holidays, the Vienna Boys' Choir is one of the oldest boys' choirs in the world. According to founding documents, the choir has roots as far back as 1498, when Maximilian I brought a dozen boys together to form the court music band.

As expected, the choir has produced many musicians that shaped the musical history of the 19th and 20th centuries, including composers Joseph and Michael Haydn. Franz Schubert wrote his first compositions as a court choirboy, and although he was considered a musical genius, he was not a favorite of his teachers since he was more interested in writing music than in getting good grades for his schoolwork.

In 1924, the choir began singing in concert halls around the world. Since then, the Vienna Boys' Choir has performed concerts under many great conductors, including Leonard Bernstein. Yet, in keeping with a tradition dating back to 1498, the choir sings solemn mass in Vienna's Hofburg Chapel every Sunday.

What is the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular?

Since 1933, the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular has been a mainstay for the holidays in New York City. Originally performed before movie screenings, the Christmas Spectacular expanded to its current 90-minute live stage production in 1979.

Christmas song trivia: During Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular shows run, 2,500 pounds of
During Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular show's run,
2,500 pounds of "snow" fall upon the stage.

For eight weeks each year, the show attracts more than a million people to its Big Apple performances, and thousands more catch its holiday tour to major cities around the United States. It is the number one live show in the country. Part of the allure of the show is its over-the-top presentation:

  • The cast changes costumes eight times during the show, with as little as 78 seconds to do so. In all, there are 1,300 costumes worn.
  • During the "Music Hall Menagerie," two donkeys, three camels, five sheep, and a horse make a special appearance. They have their own staff of trainers offstage.
  • A real ice rink built on a movable platform is used during the "Christmas in New York" scene.
  • The "Here Comes Santa Claus" number features every member of the cast dressed as Santa to explain how Santa can actually deliver gifts to every boy and girl in the world, all in one night.
  • During the show's run, 2,500 pounds of "snow" fall upon the stage.

What are the Top 20 Christmas Songs?

According to ASCAP, these are the most-performed holiday songs from 2000 to 2005:

  1. "The Christmas Song" (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) (Mel Tormé, Robert Wells)
  2. "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" (J. Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie)
  3. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (Ralph Blane, Hugh Martin)
  4. "Winter Wonderland" (Felix Bernard, Richard B. Smith)
  5. "White Christmas" (Irving Berlin)
  6. "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" (Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne)
  7. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (Johnny Marks)
  8. "Jingle Bell Rock" (Joseph Carleton Beal, James Ross Boothe)
  9. "I'll Be Home for Christmas" (Walter Kent, Kim Gannon, Buck Ram)
  10. "Little Drummer Boy" (Katherine K. Davis, Henry V. Onorati, Harry Simeone)
  11. "Sleigh Ride" (Leroy Anderson, Mitchell Parish)
  12. "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" (Edward Pola, George Wyle)
  13. "Silver Bells" (Jay Livingston, Ray Evans)
  14. "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" (Johnny Marks)
  15. "Feliz Navidad" (José Feliciano)
  16. "Blue Christmas" (Billy Hayes, Jay W. Johnson)
  17. "Frosty the Snowman" (Steve Nelson, Walter E. Rollins)
  18. "A Holly Jolly Christmas" (Johnny Marks)
  19. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" (Tommie Connor)
  20. "Here Comes Santa Claus" (Gene Autry, Oakley Haldeman)

If you thought your Christmas song trivia knowledge was pretty good, then you may do very well with our next section. Let’s continue in the area of art and entertainment and find out how much you know about Christmas entertainment.