I won’t lie — I’m really getting close to breaking my 30-year tradition of not listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving (OK, can we really count those first seven to 10 years? Probably not). I’ve always waited until after Thanksgiving dinner to churn up Mariah Carey, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and John Williams’ “Home Alone” score.
But it’s 2020 — and nothing is normal. Seriously. People are already decorating their homes with Christmas lights just to feel something.
Millions of coronavirus cases continue to stack up. More than a quarter million Americans have died. We’ve seen earthquakes, impeachments, the death of Kobe Bryant and so many more troubling moments this year that getting into Christmas early doesn’t seem like too bad of an idea.
But I’ve held off. And recently, I tweeted my concern about almost starting to play Christmas music. One responder — Ryan Teague Beckwith of Bloomberg — pointed out to me that “Jingle Bells” is actually a Thanksgiving song.
technically "Jingle Bells" is a Thanksgiving song— ryan teague beckwith (@ryanbeckwith) November 24, 2020
So I went on a search and I found that The Washington Post actually wrote about this in 2013.
First published in 1857, it was written by James Lord Pierpont, to be sung on Thanksgiving — not Christmas. There is some question as to where it was written — Massachusetts and Georgia both are plausible. Medford, Mass., where sleigh races were popular in the 1800s, claims itself as the birthplace of the song. There is a plaque at 19 High Street, the site of the former Simpson Tavern, where Pierpont was said to have penned the ditty in 1850.
There you have it. “Jingle Bells” is about dashing through the snow to celebrate Thanksgiving, not necessarily Christmas. So if you want to give yourself a little control in 2020 — you may want to hit up “Jingle Bells” for Thanksgiving. Technically, it’s not breaking the rules, right?