Does Christmas music really affect the brain?


Anna Izquierdo, Staff Reporter

As the holidays roll around and the Halloween decorations are put away for another year, many people––specifically students––are found to be getting into the Christmas spirit with their favorite holiday songs. Research shows that the joyful music has existed for many years and continues to bring a festive air to the minds of the world. 

Christmas carols all have a history. According to James Cooper, a freelance web developer and self-proclaimed Christmas expert, the first carol was sung in Europe thousands of years ago, but it did not relate to Christmas. Instead, carols were sung at the Winter Solstice celebration as people danced around stone circles. The Winter Solstice is known as the shortest day of the year, typically occurring around the twenty-second day of December. 

Carols were written and sung throughout all seasons of the year, but only the tradition of singing them at Christmas survived. 

Early Christians began controlling pagan solstice celebrations for Christmas, and they began giving people Christian songs to sing instead of pagan ones. 

In 129 AD, “a Roman bishop said that a song called ‘Angel’s Hymn’ should be sung at a Christmas service in Rome.”

Another famous early Christmas hymn was written in 760 AD by Comas of Jerusalem for the Greek Orthodox Church. Soon after this, “many composers all over Europe started to write ‘Christmas carols’.”

However, a majority of people did not enjoy the carols, as they were sung in Latin, a language that was not commonly understood during these early times. Years later, by 1200, most people had lost interest in Christmas altogether. 

Not long after, Saint Francis of Assisi began his Nativity Plays in Italy. The people in the plays sang songs or “canticles” that told the story during the performance. Sometimes these carols were in Latin, but a majority of them were sung in a universal language that everyone could understand. The new carols then spread to France, Spain, Germany, and other European countries. 

The earliest Christmas carol was written in 1410, but only a fragment of it still exists today. The song was about Mary and Jesus meeting different people in Bethlehem. Carols from this time are untrue stories about the holy family. They were seen as entertainment, rather than the religious songs we know today. 

When the Puritans came into power in the 1640s, the celebration of Christmas and singing carols stopped; however, people continued to sing them in secret. Also during this time, several orchestras and choirs were established in the cities of England, and the people wanted carols to sing, thus leading to their popularity once again. 

New carol services became popular, as did the tradition of singing carols in the streets and the classic candlelit services in churches. Many of these holiday staples carried into the present day and continue to bring joy to people around the world. 

Through the progression of Christmas music over the years, many songs were created and enjoyed by people of all ages, especially the Mount Pisgah community. When surveyed, it was found that a majority of students begin listening to Christmas music once December starts, with only a handful getting into the holiday spirit before Halloween. 

It was also found that the community has a mix of favorite Christmas artists and cover artists, like Mariah Carey “because she is iconic” and Pentatonix. 

One anonymous students chooses to listen to Justin Beiber’s Mistletoe, as they think it “embodies the Christmas spirit and because [Justin Beiber] is the best.”

Another student, fond of White Christmas, says that they enjoy listening to it “because it’s a classic.” This student also loves All I Want for Christmas “because it’s a straight banger.”

Other individuals enjoy the holiday songs “that make you want to dance,” specifically Santa Tell Me by Ariana Grande and Underneath the Christmas Tree by Kelly Clarkson. 

A majority of feedback received states that Christmas music “has such a pure perspective on the holiday” and it “allows them to connect with other people.”

According to one student, Silent Night “makes them feel nostalgic,” and, to another, Frank Sinatra’s Let It Snow “reminds them of a simpler time.”

An individual states it best that “[Christmas music] brings back so many good memories and fond times with [their] family.” Christmas music has the power to bring excitement to the holidays, so why not start listening now?