Merry Melodies

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By Amy Falkofske

Love it or hate it, it’s the season of round-the-clock Christmas music. You may already have your radio dial
tuned into 97.1 WASH-FM’s 24/7 Christmas music. If you’re a SiriusXM listener, there’s the Hallmark  Channel’s Christmas Radio on channel 70. We polled Prince William residents and Prince William Living staff on their must-have seasonal songs, but first, how did Christmas music come about?

History of Christmas Music

Carols were first sung during the Winter Solstice in Europe thousands of years ago. The word “carol” used to be defined as “a dance or song of praise and joy.” The original carols were pagan songs, but early Christians began celebrating Christmas and the birth of Jesus at the same time as the Winter Solstice and used Christian songs instead of pagan songs.

Today we have caroling and Christmas by Candlelight services, which were made popular during the Victorian era.

Prince William’s Favorite Christmas Music

Some local Christmas music enthusiasts shared their favorite Christmas songs with us. Check out their recommendations to help you build a festive new playlist for your holiday season.

Leah Marsh, a Northern Virginia resident, put Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” at the top of her list. Her other favorites include “Dominic the Donkey,” “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”

Brittney Hunt of Bristow loves “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “All I Want for Christmas is You” and “Sleigh Bells.”

“We listen to Christmas music all month in our house! It simply gets us into the spirit of Christmas and lets our family bond,” she said.

Susy Moorstein, a Prince William resident, said her favorite Christmas songs are “Silent Night,” “O Holy Night,” “White Christmas” and “Frosty the Snowman.”

Susan Peterson of Bristow also loves “Silent Night” because “It’s an iconic Christmas song.” She especially loves the Garth Brooks version on the album “Beyond the Season.” Another one of her favorites is “White Christmas.”

“Growing up in Arizona, I loved the idea of a white Christmas. I am a snow lover,” she said.

Megan Zimmerman of Bristow shared that her favorite holiday song is “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”

“I love all the classics, but this is my favorite because it reminds me of my grandmother and setting up her decorations around the holidays. Takes me back every time,” she said. Isn’t it wonderful how songs can bring back cherished memories with just a few notes?

Barbara Pyles of Manassas listed a number of favorites: “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays,” “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” “O Holy Night,” “Silent Night” and “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

She enjoys “the first three because they are nostalgic, with good memories” and the rest “because of their message.” Pyles also loves to play her Carpenters Christmas album, where she can soak up all of the above songs.

Gainesville resident Patrick King’s favorites are the traditional Christmas songs.

“My favorite is ‘Carol of the Bells.’ However, I like to hear strange takes on it. For instance, there’s a version recorded by the metal band, August Run Red. Hearing songs done differently makes them new again,” he said.

Prince William Living Staff Favorites

We also polled the staff of Prince William Living to discover their must-play Christmas songs.

Katherine Gotthardt named “Oh Holy Night” as her favorite.

“While I’m not particularly Christian (I consider myself interfaith), I find tremendous inspiration and beauty in this song, especially when performed by operatic voices. The passion and cadence of the piece speak to me and bring me wholly into the season of awe, joy and hope,” she said.

Dominique McIndoe listed many traditional Christmas songs like “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of Year” by Andy Williams. “It wouldn’t be Christmas for me without these classics! They really get me into the winter-y, giving, family mood. In general, I also love Christmas church hymns,” she said.

Rena Malai said “Santa Baby” was her favorite Christmas song. “I love how she has no problem asking Santa for absolutely everything that she wants and expects to get it!” she said.

Jorge de Villasante, who studied at the university in Austria, named “Heilige Nacht” as one of his favorites. His other favorites are “Los peces en el río,” “Christmas Wrapping,” “Mary’s Boy Child” and “2000 Miles.”

Carole Keily, our Online Editor, who is also a singer, said she must always listen to Handel’s “Messiah.”

“I’m a singer, and many of my favorites are pieces I’ve performed once or twice and never hear again,” she said. About “Messiah,” she said, “If I’m not performing it that year, I find a sing-along.”

Erin Pittman, our Editor-In-Chief, is in good company with Manassas resident Barbara Pyles in her love of Christmas music by the Carpenters.

“I have to listen to the entire The Carpenters: A Christmas Portrait album in order for it to be an official Christmas season. My family has treasured this music since I was a little girl, and no holiday songs make me feel cozier or happier than ‘Merry Christmas, Darling,’ their version of ‘Sleigh Ride’ and all the
festive songs that fill this album,” she said.

Diane Puigdomenech said “O Little Town of Bethlehem” was one of her favorites.

“This song is special because I grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The Moravians founded Bethlehem, so at Christmas, the decorations are so special, along with the music and tours of the Moravian cathedral,” she said.

Katrina Wilson said that once she hears “Silent Night” by The Temptations she knows it’s officially Christmas!

Carla Christiano confessed she doesn’t really like Christmas music, but she tolerates “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by Bruce Springsteen and “Jingle Bell Rock” by Brenda Lee.

Maybe some of these are your favorites too, or perhaps you’ve discovered a new song or two you’d like to check out for yourself. Whichever the case may be, grab a hot cup of cocoa or some eggnog, cozy up by the fire and give some of these songs a listen.

Amy Falkofske is a freelance writer and photographer. She has a Master’s degree in Film-TV with a concentration in screenwriting. She lives in Bristow with her husband, two boys and two Beagle dogs

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