Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Hidden History of Carols

It seems that in the Middle Ages caroling parties could be a bit wild. Most people do not realize that carols were not just for Christmas but every feast day had its carols, and some were more bawdy than religious. To quote:
 The story of Christmas caroling is full of unexpected surprises. The practice itself has gone through many changes over the centuries, and our perception of caroling today is based only on the very recent history. We think of Christmas caroling as a wholesome, and even religious, activity. Caroling seems to speak of the beauty, innocence, and magic of the Christmas season. However, in researching this practice, I have discovered that caroling was not as innocent as we might think. In fact, the act of caroling was actively combatted by the Church for hundreds of years.

Uncovering the origins of caroling has proven difficult. Some sources give the 14th or 15th centuries as the earliest date for caroling. I believe the reason for this is because this is the period when caroling began to be adopted by the church, and this is when carols first began to be written down. However, there is much evidence that caroling was around long before that. We don’t have written carols from the early periods, but what we do have are edicts from the Church and recorded sermons which make reference to caroling. (Read more.)
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