Christmas Songs and some German Christmas Customs

It is interesting to see where this melody originated, namely in Italy!


German and Austrian Christmas customs have spread throughout the world wherever Christmas (Weihnachten) is celebrated. From the Christmas tree (Tannenbaum) to “Silent Night” (“Stille Nacht“) and on to the Advent calendar (Adventskalender), people around the globe have adopted many traditions that began in the German-speaking world.

The Christmas songs, that I remember from my childhood, have a special meaning for me. Some songs were very joyful, others more reflective, that is ‘besinnlich’. Besinnlich meant we became deeply and seriously thoughtful while singing these songs . This kind of singing appealed to me. Advent was the only time of the year when my family would sing some songs together. And it went on for four Sunday afternoons in a row. After the fourth Sunday of Advent some serious preparations for Christmas Eve started. We children were not included in these preparations. As…

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6 thoughts on “Christmas Songs and some German Christmas Customs

    1. O du fröhliche
      This very popular German Christmas carol has Italian origins. In 1788 the German philosopher, theologian, and poet Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803) brought the melody to Germany after a trip to Italy. Originally a Sicilian fisherman’s song, the melody was used for the Latin hymn “O Sanctissima.” Around 1816 Johannes Daniel Falk (1768-1826) wrote the German lyrics for what soon became one of the most popular German Weihnachtslieder. The English version is known as “O How Joyfully.”

  1. Tune
    Frequency of useSICILIAN MARINERS

    SICILIAN MARINERS is traditionally used for the Roman Catholic Marian hymn “O Sanctissima.” According to tradition, Sicilian seamen ended each day on their ships by singing this hymn in unison. The tune probably traveled from Italy to Germany to England, where The European Magazine and London Review…
    Go to tune page >

  2. Carolyn, at this time of the year, I listen to a lot of beautiful reflective music on the radio! 🙂
    This song is right now played each day several times! It has b ecome very popular:

    I also very much enjoy listening to the Latin (original) version! 🙂

    HUGS, Uta 🙂

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