Ah, we are at this time of year again. The annual “debate” season about whether to Santa or not, if it’s okay to wish someone “Happy Holidays,” and what to do about that pesky Christmas music.
I’ve gone through seasons of no Christmas music until Christmas Day and well, maybe a little is okay. That’s me personally. I’m live and let live on this debate. I do find 24 hours of Christmas music on radio stations obnoxious (especially since it all comes to a grinding halt on the 26th). But if you are listening to them while I’m at your house I won’t demand the radio be turned off.
Christmas music I divide into three categories: Christmas carols, Christmas songs and Winter songs. Christmas carols are the songs that most Catholics will find in their hymnals: Silent Night, Joy to the World, Angels We Have Heard on High etc. Christmas songs are songs relating to the Christmas season that are not carols either because they are not relgious (Deck the Halls, We Wish You A Merry Christmas, Dominic the Donkey, The Red Shoes, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Silver Bells…) or because while having a religious theme, the theology is ambiguous at best (Mary Did You Know, The Little Drummer Boy). Nothing wrong with those songs, just how I place them mentally. Finally there are “Winter Songs” which we culturally associate with Christmas but do not specifically mention the holiday (Jingle Bells–actually written to be a Thanksgiving song, Walking in a Winter Wonderland, Sleigh Ride). Personally, I prefer not to listen to a ton of any of those three during Advent, especially in the early weeks but I know for many people, specifically avoiding the carols while listening to songs that fall in the other two groups are okay. There are no hard and fast rules on this and as I’ve heard a few fellow Catholic moms say: if you don’t learn/practice the carols at least a little, it’s hard to suddenly learn them Christmas Day.
So, for someone who doesn’t want to inundate herself with Christmas music, but still wants to get herself “in the Spirit” whatever is to be done?
Enter: Advent Music. Wait, you mean those hymns we sing for four weeks at Mass? Yes and no.
Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas has come up with an Advent Playlist that mixes hymns and more secular fare that I really can’t top. And there are even more suggestions in the comments section. I can never get Spotify to work but, I did download several on iTunes. And I downloaded the entire Advent at Ephesus album from the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles. It is a beautiful listen anytime but especially this time of year.
I really have no objections to people who listen to Christmas music but being Catholic my whole life, I can’t imagine a world in which Advent is plowed over and this music, well it helps me to more fully embrace the liturgical season we are in. And I think that most Catholics don’t immediately think of listening to “Advent music” as a way to prepare without celebrating seasons out of turn.
May you enjoy a blessed Advent and I hope that some of this music may add to it!