Wicked Holiday Guide

Wicked Holiday Guide

You mindlessly sing along, but do you ever stop to think what you are actually singing?  Earlier today, I had to look up the meaning of yuletide. (Of or relating to the holiday season). So just for the falalala fun of it all, let’s troll the auld yuletide meanings of some other holiday headscratchers.

With a lot of help from Merriam-Webster, Oxford English Dictionary, and a couple of other noted sources (below), here are some of the most mis-understood and curious lyrics from Christmas songs.  Bottoms up with a cup of good cheer, my friends,  and please bring me some figgy pudding (Mashed figs, cream, and bread, boiled. Eww.) Oh, and enjoy some of the country versions of these timeless and seemingly senseless Christmas classics.

  • Bells on Bobtails

    “Bells on bobtails”(Jingle Bells)-What the? Ok apparently this refers to the style of a horse’s tails. Think man-bun on a horse’s tail. It’s cut short or gathered up and tied in a knot.  I feel better already.

  • Don We Now Our Gay Apparel

    “Don we now our gay apparel”( Deck The Halls) – Don is not a guy. Don means to put on. Gay -meaning happy, bright, festive.  So in other words, if Don was to don his gay apparel, he is putting on his party clothes.

  • Hop-A-long- Boots

    “Hop-a-long boots”(It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas)- I don’t know what they are, but I think I want a pair. They sound cool. I’m thinking swag looking leather boots on springs. But they refer to a fictional cowboy from the 1950’s “Holpalong Cassidy.”  Ah, now we know!

  • Troll The Ancient Yuletide Carol

    “Troll the ancient yuletide carol” (Deck the Halls). It sounds scary, right? There isn’t a troll living at Carol’s house. Deep breath.  According to the Oxford English Dictionary,  “toll” has been used since the 16th centure, and can mean,  “to sing in a full, rolling voice; to chant merrily or jovially.” Think Elf and Buddy’s famous line, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.” You get the picture. 

  • Pretend to be Parson Brown

    “And pretend to be Parson Brown” ( Winter Wonderland)- Dude must have been famous, right? Apparently it’s really a reference to a random minister of the time, whom the author gave the name, Brown. Rock on Parson Brown.

  • Auld Lang Syne

    Before the year is over, make sure you throw around this term as much as possible. Every time you toast to the season repeat these lyrics that feel like we are speaking in tongues, “Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And auld lang syne!” Wow, I never knew! And still don’t. Dictionary.com tells us it translates to “times long past.” Fun fact: “Auld Lang Syne” was first a Scottish poem. It was later put to music and voila! (According to Grammerly)

  • If the Fates allow

    (Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas)

    “Through the years
    We all will be together,
    If the Fates allow.
    Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
    And have yourself a merry little Christmas now. 

    Who the heck are the Fates, and why do they think they can tell us what to do?

    As Kaplin International explains, “The Fates were the three goddesses from Greek and Roman mythology who controlled human destiny. In poetry, they’re often used to represent fate or destiny – things that are going to happen to someone – even though modern audiences don’t actually believe in the goddesses themselves.”

  • Good Tidings We Bring

    “Good tidings we bring to you and your kin” (We Wish You A Merry Christmas). We need subtitles! Luckily we have Google. And Merriman-Webster tell us “Tiding is defined as a piece of news, and is often found in the plural, modified by good or glad. Although there is nothing specific in the meaning or origin of tiding that pertains to Christmas (it derives via Middle English from Old English and relates to betide, meaning “to happen especially by fate”), we most often see the word in contexts pertaining to the Christmas season. 

    Whew, thanks for clearing that up.

  • In Sin and Error Pining

    Long lay the world in sin and error pining,”(Oh, Holy Night). Doesn’t “error pining” sound like what you get when you reach a page on the internet that is no longer valid. “Warning! Error pining.” It’s all much deeper than that and relgious. 

    Merriam-Webster to the rescue again: “Pine is a verb with two meanings in the dictionary: “to lose vigor, health, or flesh (as through grief) : languish” and “to yearn for something unattainable.” Some listeners might understandably extract from this lyric the wishful meaning of the latter sense, but the line more likely alludes to a world languishing in sin before the appearance of Christ.”

  • Jingle Bell Square

    It doesn’t show up on my GPS! I’ve looked everywhere. “Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock. Jingle bells chime in jingle bell time. Dancin’ and prancin’ in Jingle Bell Square, In the frosty air.” (Jingle Bell Rock)

    It sure sounds fun! I mean the dancing, the prancing, all those bells. Sadly, it only exists in our hearts and these lyrics.

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