Is Christmas caroling a dying art? Students discuss

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“Silent Night,” pictured in a hymnbook, is one of the oldest and most popular Christmas songs. Many carolers sing the traditional carols that have been sung for centuries. (Unsplash/Aaron Burden)

This Christmas season, students shared their thoughts on whether the tradition of caroling will continue on in the future.

Arcadia Publishing said caroling first began as an oral tradition in the 13th century. Many of the ancient Christmas carols have been recorded and are still sung to family, friends and strangers every Christmas season.

BYU biochemistry major Christian Arnold, from Reno, Nevada, said his family used to go caroling every year.

“We were a musical family, so we’d go out with a couple other families every year,” Arnold said. “I haven’t done it since I lived at home though, since I’ve been at college.”

Arnold said he and his wife have talked about going caroling, but it feels a bit unnatural while here at college.

BYU English major Dagny Ball, from Pleasant Grove, Utah, said she hasn’t gone caroling very consistently in the past, and she doesn’t plan to this year either.

“If there’s a group going or I get invited for an activity, then I go, but it’s not usually in my plans every Christmas,” Ball said.

Ball said she used to go with her cousins or for ward activities growing up, but nothing outside of that.

Silent Night is one of the oldest and most popular Christmas songs. Arcadia Publishing said it was written by was written by an Austrian priest named Joseph Mohr and his friend Franz Gruber on a broken organ, according to legend. (Spotify)

BYU student Mikayla Mattson, from Lehi, Utah, said she also did not seek out opportunities to carol to her neighbors.

“Growing up, (I didn’t carol) except with my ward, when we would go around with a hay bail trailer,” Mattson said.

Mattson said she caroled on her mission with members in her area, but has never personally gone out and done it on her own.

Arnold said even though the tradition of caroling is becoming less popular, he thinks that it will never completely die out.

Arnold said people even caroled over zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting they are willing to adapt to new circumstances.

The 10 most popular Christmas carols, according to the New York Public Library, and many more are sung countless times every Christmas season. Although caroling has decreased in popularity over the years, many students believe the art will never die. (Made in Canva by Hannah LeSueur).

“If we grew up caroling to at least some degree, we probably have fond memories of it,” Arnold said. “It will probably be something that creeps into our mind of things we want to do.”

Ball said it is a dying art because no one has ever caroled to her. However, she thinks it will most likely stick around.

“I feel like people will still do it,” Ball said. “Christmas is full of traditions, and most of those traditions haven’t died away.”

Mattson also said it is becoming less and less popular, but is still a great way to get out of the house at Christmas time.

“I think it’s dying, but I feel like it shouldn’t die,” Mattson said. “It’s still cool even if you and your family go to four houses around your neighborhood for fun.”

Mattson said even though she has not done much caroling, she would like it to be a tradition in her family. She said she will most likely take her kids caroling to try something new.

Arnold said caroling is a typical Christmas tradition that helps people to feel closer together this time of the year.

“Christmas is a time to be with family and to have those special moments that you wouldn’t normally have anytime of the year,” Arnold said. “It invites the Christmas setting of getting together as family and doing something and enjoying that time together.”

Arnold also said he believes some people need an extra visit from loved ones during the holidays when anxiety, loneliness and depression peak. Though people often choose to visit people they know well, he said it is important to think of who could use a message to lift their spirits.

Ball said caroling is a cheap way to spread the Christmas spirit. Music helps her to encapsulate those feelings and share it with others.

“It spreads joy,” Ball said. “It’s another way that is free and inexpensive to get people together to experience happiness.”

Mattson also said she believes music is a powerful tool to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

“Music brings out feelings from people,” Mattson said. “There’s something about live music that is more exciting than listening to the radio because it’s in the moment.”

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