"Jingle Bells" Is A Thanksgiving Song: What?

By | November 21, 2019

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Two people ride across a field in a one-horse open sleigh ca. 1930. (Getty Images)

As one of the best-loved songs of the Christmas season, "Jingle Bells" has become part of our holiday culture, but there is more to this catchy ditty than meets the ear. For one thing, "Jingle Bells" is a Thanksgiving song, not a Christmas song, but that's just the tip of the snowball. Let's take a closer look at the history of this well-known song, how it came to be, and how it became a Christmas standard. 

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"Jingle Bells" is a Thanksgiving song. (chattanogafun.com)

Merry ... Thanksgiving?

Listen carefully to the lyrics of "Jingle Bells," and you'll realize it contains no reference to Christmas or the December holidays whatsoever. It simply boasts the joys of winter and the rush of zipping through the snow in a horse-drawn sleigh. That's why it makes a surprising sort of sense that "Jingle Bells" was written for Thanksgiving. It was first performed during a Thanksgiving Day service, after which it was often performed at Thanksgiving time.