We Irish are fond of enjoying a drink or two. We also tend to be quite verbose and jocular. The obvious combination of these two traits is the wonderful ability to toast our family and friends. To that end, Lynnrockets would like to propose an Irish Christmas toast to all you fellow Rocketeers (now would be a great time to raise your glass of spirit):
“The light of the Christmas star to you, The warmth of home and hearth to you, The cheer and good will of friends to you, The hope of a childlike heart to you, The joy of a thousand angels to you, The love of the Son and God’s peace to you.”
Did you know that “Holly and Holly Wreaths” were Irish traditions? No Irish home would be complete without the holly. Holly grows wild in Ireland and is used to decorate the entire house. The Celtics (the early Irish settlers and not the basketball team) believed holly represented life and rebirth. The evergreen leaves symbolized life during a time when all else was bare and the red berries represented the coming of Spring. With the coming of Christianity to Ireland the berries took on a new meaning, new life in Christ. One charming folklore says holly is put out as a kind gesture to tiny fairies who might use it as a hiding place to come in out of the cold. Holly wreaths as a door decoration can be traced to North American Irish immigrating to the US during the Great Potato Famine.
The ancient Celts believed that mistletoe had healing powers. Its powers were so great that its presence encourage a brief truce among enemies. Hence the Victorian era custom of kissing under the mistletoe.
Window candles as part of Christmas decoration are Irish too! Candles in the window date back to ancient time’s laws of hospitality towards strangers. To have a light in your window on Christmas Eve to welcome the stranger meant that you were welcoming the Holy Family too. To have no light meant that you shared the guilt of the Innkeeper at Bethlehem who said, “No Room”!
If you are up to the challenge, you might try this Christmas toast in native Irish:
“Nollaig faoi shéan is faoi shonas duit.”
It means “A prosperous and happy Christmas to you.”
So there you have it. A little Irish Christmas history.
No in depth post today. Just my all time favorite Holiday Season song, “Sleigh Ride” by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. Lynnrockets wishes all of you and yours a very Merry Christmas!
“Sleigh Ride” is a popular light orchestral piece composed by Leroy Anderson. The composer had the original idea for the piece during a heat wave in July 1946; he finished the work in February 1948. Lyrics, about a person who would like to ride in a sleigh on a winter’s day with another person, were written by Mitchell Parish in 1950. The orchestral version was first recorded in 1949 by Arthur Fiedler and The Boston Pops Orchestra. The song was a hit record on RCA Victor Red Seal 49-0515 (45 rpm) / 10-1484 (78 rpm), and has become the equivalent of a signature song for the orchestra. The 45 rpm version was originally issued on red vinyl. This original mono version has never been available on CD, although the later 1959 re-recording is available in stereo. The orchestra has also recorded the song with John Williams, their conductor from 1979 to 1995, and Keith Lockhart, their current conductor.
Although “Sleigh Ride” is often associated with Christmas, and often appears on Christmas compilation albums, the song’s lyrics never specifically mention any holiday or religion. In fact, the mention of pumpkin pie in the last verse might suggest an association with Thanksgiving rather than Christmas.
According to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers [ASCAP] review of Christmas music, “Sleigh Ride” consistently ranks in the top 10 list of most performed songs written by ASCAP members during the Christmas season worldwide. According to author Steve Metcalf in the book Leroy Anderson: A Bio-Bibliography [Praeger 2004], “Sleigh Ride”… has been performed and recorded by a wider array of musical artists than any other piece in the history of Western music.”
Please enjoy the original Arthur Fiedler and The Boston Pops‘ version of “Sleigh Ride” which happens to be my personal favorite traditional Christmas song.