Christmas music: 10 fun facts about favorite Christmas songs and carols

Millions of Americans participate in the long-held tradition of listening to Christmas songs and singing Christmas carols each December – and the numbers prove it.

Fox News Digital took a look at the history of Christmas music and found 10 surprising number-based facts. 

Test your knowledge of Christmas tunes below.

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Christmas song and carols are performed around the world during the month of December.

Christmas song and carols are performed around the world during the month of December.
(iStock)

4th century – The oldest known Christmas song is “Jesus Illuminates All” – “Jesus Refulsit Omnium” in Latin – which was composed by St. Hilary of Poitiers in the fourth century, according to a report from Billboard.

The European bishop, who was born in what’s now Poitiers, France, is believed to have composed the “carol” after the first recorded Christmas celebration, Billboard reports. The first recorded Christmas celebration reportedly happened in 336 A.D, according to Christianity.com, a Christian media company.

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13th century – Christmas caroling reportedly dates back to the 13th century with Roman Saint Francis of Assisi who incorporated songs of well-wishes in his Christmas services, according to Arcadia Publishing, an American history and folklore publisher.

Christmas caroling is a tradition where people sing Christmas songs. Some carolers perform songs at doorsteps or in public squares to spread holiday cheer.

Christmas caroling is a tradition where people sing Christmas songs. Some carolers perform songs at doorsteps or in public squares to spread holiday cheer.
(iStock)

49,000+ Christmas songs – In 2021, the music rights administration platform Blokur estimated there are more than 49,000 Christmas songs in existence worldwide.

The London-based music technology company reportedly analyzed tens of millions of musical works to find which songs had Christmas in their title or referenced Christmas.

100 million records sold – Bing Crosby’s 1942 song “White Christmas” is the best-selling Christmas single, according to Guinness World Records.

The song has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and at least 50 million of those sales are singles, the world record reference guide reports.

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32% dislike “Santa Baby” – Eartha Kitt’s 1953 classic “Santa Baby” is reportedly the most disliked Christmas song in the U.S., according to a poll conducted by YouGov America Inc, a multinational market research and data analytics firm, which is headquartered in the U.K.

One thousand American adults were surveyed in 2021 and nearly one-third (32%) said they dislike “Santa Baby.” On the opposite end, 68% said they like the song.

1.2 billion streams – Mariah Carey’s 1994 hit “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is the top-streamed Christmas song on Spotify – a popular audio streaming service that has a user base of 456 million.

At the time of publication, the song has been streamed more than 1.23 billion times, according to Spotify data.

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10,000+ streams per minute – Billboard Pro, a subscription-based music news platform for industry professionals, reported in 2019 that an Amazon Music representative said the streaming service received over 10,000 stream requests per minute on average in the month of December. 

The requests were reportedly made through Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa. If these numbers are accurate, that could equate to at least 446.4 million requests for Christmas music. There are 44,640 minutes in the month of December, according to EasySurf.cc, an online time calculator.

9 hours – The world’s longest Christmas song is believed to be “The 179 Days of Christmas,” a song created by Joren Cull and AJ Ing.

In 2018, the two Toronto musicians created and released an extended version of Frederic Austin’s Christmas carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” (circa 1780). The extended song is nearly nine hours in length (eight hours and 56 minutes).

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“The Twelve Days of Christmas” equals 364 gifts – Speaking of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” by the end of the song, singers have named 364 gifts when adding up the referenced gifts from all 12 days. 

– 12 references of a partridge in a pear tree

– 11 references to two turtledoves

– 10 references to three French hens

– 9 references to four calling birds

– 8 references to five golden rings

– 7 references to six geese laying eggs

– 6 references to seven swimming swans

– 5 references to eight milking maids

– 4 references to nine dancing ladies

– 3 references to 10 leaping lords

– 2 references to 11 piping pipers

– 1 reference to 12 drumming drummers

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13% like “Silent Night” – Joseph Mohr’s 1816 carol “Silent Night” is reportedly the most liked Christmas song in the U.S., according to a poll conducted by YouGov America Inc.

The market research firm surveyed 1,200 American adults were surveyed in 2020 and 13% said “Silent Night” is their favorite Christmas song. The classic Christian carol reportedly tied with Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.”


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