Music·Posted on Dec 21, 202025 Wild Facts About Popular Christmas SongsThe melody for "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" had to be dug out of the trash.by Kristen HarrisBuzzFeed StaffFacebookPinterestTwitterMailLink 1. Before "All I Want for Christmas Is You" became a smash hit, Mariah Carey thought she was too young to record a Christmas album, but her manager-husband encouraged her to pursue the project. View this video on YouTube Columbia Records / Via youtube.com At the time, Christmas albums were something created by artists who were toward the end of their careers. However, Mariah's then-husband, Tommy Mottola, who was also an executive at her record company, insisted that she make Merry Christmas while she was at the height of her career. They decorated their studio for Christmas in August, and in only 15 minutes, she wrote "All I Want for Christmas Is You." 2. "Let It Snow" was written in the middle of a heat wave. View this video on YouTube Warner Music Group / Via youtube.com Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn's song about being snowed in resulted from a desire for cooler temperatures in Hollywood in 1945. 3. Jimmy Boyd, the 13-year-old singer of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," had to appear before leaders of the Roman Catholic Church to get their ban on the song lifted. View this video on YouTube SOFA Entertainment / Via youtube.com It had been banned by the church and several radio stations for "implying even a tenuous link between sex and the religious holiday," according to the Chicago Tribune. 4. George Michael wrote, produced, and played every single instrument on "Last Christmas." View this video on YouTube Columbia Records / Via youtube.com His engineer Chris Porter said that he remembers "desperately wanting to play sleigh bells" on the track himself. However, George didn't want anyone else's help. 5. "The Little Drummer Boy" was inspired by a tune the songwriter got stuck in her head when she was trying to take a nap. View this video on YouTube RCA Records Label / Via youtube.com Katherine Davis was inspired by a French song called "Patapan," which translated to "pa-rum-pum-pum" in her mind. 6. Two of the performers on the original recording of "Jingle Bell Rock" claimed to be the track's true writers until their dying day. View this video on YouTube UMG / Via youtube.com Guitarist Hank Garland and singer Bobby Helms claimed that composers Joseph Carleton Beal and James Ross Boothe had given the record label a song called "Jingle Bell Hop." Hank and Bobby supposedly reworked the song into "Jingle Bell Rock," but they never received writing credits. 7. "White Christmas" is about the composer's grief over losing his infant son on Christmas Day. View this video on YouTube Concord Music Publishing / Via youtube.com Irving Berlin and his wife visited their child's grave every Dec. 25 after his death in 1928. Recorded by Bing Crosby, the song went on to become a nostalgic favorite. In addition, the Army used it as a secret signal to instruct soldiers to evacuate Saigon during the Vietnam War. 8. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is based on a children's book authored by the songwriter's brother-in-law. View this video on YouTube Concord Music Publishing / Via youtube.com Johnny Marks took inspiration from a book that Robert L. May created as a promotional item for the department store he worked for. 9. Ariana Grande likely had her British boyfriend in mind when writing "Snow in California." View this video on YouTube Universal Music Group / Via youtube.com At the time, Ariana was in a relationship with Nathan Sykes, a member of the English boy band the Wanted. The song is about a woman in a long-distance relationship who wishes the weather would prevent her lover from leaving town again. 10. According to legend, "O Holy Night" was written to celebrate the restoration of a church's organ. View this video on YouTube SME / Via youtube.com In 1843, the parish priest in a small French town convinced local poet Placide Cappeau to pen a Christmas poem. 11. "O Come, All Ye Faithful" is often attributed to a 17th-century king. View this video on YouTube UMG / Via youtube.com The song first appeared in print credited to John Francis Wade, but the earliest manuscript containing its lyrics is attributed to King John IV of Portugal. 12. It took four people almost 200 years to complete "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." View this video on YouTube SME / Via youtube.com The carol's lyrics originated with a hymn published by Charles Wesley in 1739. George Whitefield edited it, and then, in 1855, musician William Hayman Cummings set that verison of the hymn to a melody composed by Felix Mendelssohn. 13. "O Christmas Tree" wasn't orignally about a Christmas tree at all. View this video on YouTube Universal Music Group / Via youtube.com Originally titled "O Tannenbaum," this traditional German folk song is an ode to the fir tree, which symbolizes constancy and faithfulness. 14. "Do You Hear What I Hear?" is about the existential dread of the Cold War. View this video on YouTube Legacy Recordings / Via youtube.com Noël Regney and Gloria Shayne Baker penned the song in the wake of the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Regency once said that he was inspired to write the song on his way home from the studio when he saw two babies in strollers smiling at each other, despite the fear gripping the nation. 15. "Christmas Tree Farm" was inspired by the Pennsylvania Christmas tree farm that Taylor Swift grew up on. View this video on YouTube UMG / Via youtube.com Pine Ridge Farm, where her family lived before moving to the neighboring town of Wyomissing, is featured in the song's music video as well as its cover art. 16. "Carol of the Bells" was originally a New Year's song. View this video on YouTube UMG / Via youtube.com Composer Mykola Leontovich added lyrics to a Ukrainian folk song and titled it “Shchedryk," meaning "sparrow." The folk song he adapted his version from was used as a "winter well-wishing song," and young people would go from house to house singing it in exchange for treats. 17. When songwriter Philip Springer submitted "Santa Baby" to his publisher, he thought it was so poorly written that he apologized. View this video on YouTube UMG / Via youtube.com He said that he didn't think it was a great melody, but it was the best he felt he could do. The publisher, however, insisted that it was great, and it went on to become extremely popular. 18. Richard B. Smith was inspired to write "Winter Wonderland" while spending the winter in the hospital for tuberculosis treatment. View this video on YouTube UMPI / Via youtube.com Watching children playing in the snow outside the hospital window reminded him of his own childhood, which was spent playing in the park across the street from his house. 19. "The 12 Days of Christmas" originated as a memory game. View this video on YouTube UMG Recordings / Via youtube.com The lyrics first appeared in an 18th-century children's book. If someone singing the song forgot the lyrics, they'd have to award their opponent with a "forfeit," a favor of some kind. 20. "Frosty the Snowman" was written specifically to capitalize on the success of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." View this video on YouTube Columbia / Legacy / Via youtube.com Gene Autry's popular recording inspired songwriters Jack Rollins and Steve Nelson to create their own commercialized Christmas character. Gene's recording of "Frosty," in turn, inspired the creation of a book and several films. 21. The melody for "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" had to be dug out of the trash. View this video on YouTube Warner / Via youtube.com Songwriter Hugh Martin played the tune for a few days before tossing it in the waste basket. However, his cowriter decided that it was "too good to throw away," so he rescued it from the garbage. Together, they revised it for the Judy Garland film Meet Me in St. Louis. 22. Randy Brooks wrote "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" in memory of his grandmother and her favorite whiskey. View this video on YouTube The Fred Rappoport Company, Inc. / Via youtube.com He said that five years after his grandmother died, he listened to a classic country song about another singer's grandmother. However, instead of writing a similarly sad song, he decided to honor Dot-Dot with a song that would allow her to "live on in other families’ Christmas celebrations." 23. Ross Bagdasarian recorded "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)" using the same technique that created the Munchkins' voices in The Wizard of Oz. View this video on YouTube SME / Via youtube.com Under the stage name "David Seville," he recorded all of the voices himself on a reel-to-reel tape recorder. He named the chipmunks after executives at his record company. 24. Paul McCartney wrote "Wonderful Christmastime" in only 10 minutes. View this video on YouTube UMG / Via youtube.com He also recorded every instrument and voice on the track himself, even the "children's choir." 25. And finally, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" was banned in all of England in the mid–17th century. View this video on YouTube BBC Radio 1 / Via youtube.com Oliver Cromwell banned it, along with all other Christmas carols, because he believed that Christmas should be solemn. However, the English people kept their songs alive by singing them door-to-door, and the tradition of caroling was born.