Caroling: An Age Old Tradition

Photo: istockphoto.com
Carolling remains part of our holiday season. But standing with your door open lets out precious heat and energy. Why not throw on your coat and join in the fun? It's a great way to meet your neighbors and maybe score some free eggnog as well. You'll be participating in an age old tradition. Patron saint of the environment and Xmas carols St. Francis of Assisi (c. 1182-1226) first introduced carols in 1223 during a Christmas Midnight Mass in a church in Greccio, in the province of Umbria. His music had a more joyful beat but before his upbeat tempo, all Christmas music was limited to liturgical hymns solemnly written about the nativity. As Christmas became a more popular, celebrations sprang up across Europe. Christmas music became even livelier and was soon an integral part of the Mystery Plays of the Middle Ages. Stop that singing and pray! But like the plays themselves, the songs became more flamboyant and even bawdy. The Puritans were horrified by what they considered sacrilegious celebration and outlawed carolling from 1649 – 1660 along with Christmas decorations. That's when the peasants moved the singing outside along with the Nativity Scene. They would gather in a circle and sing the various songs written by members of the community. Modern carols Over in the New World, caroling was taken up as Charity Circles, when members went door-to-door, caroling and accepting donations. It's still used as a fund raiser to this day. Why not do some caroling for your favourite environmental organization? You'll save energy by turning off the TV and all that walking is a great way to keep off the holiday weight while spreading some seasonal cheer. Safety tips for caroling
  • Never let kids go out. Always have an adult accompanying them.
  • Don't approach any front doors where the porch lights are not burning.
  • Be polite. If the owners ask you to leave, apologize for disturbing them, wish them a good holiday season and leave.
  • A good start time is seven p.m. and a good end time is nine p.m.
  • Bring a flashlight.
  • Dress warmly with coats, scarves, gloves, hats and winter boots with good treads.
  • Shelagh McNally is an environmental journalist who can't sing but still participates in carolling.