Christmas: folklore between dishes and traditional music

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Christmas: folklore between dishes and traditional music

Carol singing initially declined in popularity after the Protestant Reformation in northern Europe, although some reformers, such as Martin Luther, wrote carols and encouraged their use in worship. The songs survived largely in rural communities until the revival of interest in folk songs in the 19th century.

The 18th-century English reformer Charles Wesley understood the importance of music for worship. In addition to setting many psalms on melodies, which were influential in the Great Awakening in the United States, he wrote lyrics for at least three Christmas carols.

The best known was originally titled Hark! How All the Welkin Rings, later renamed Hark! the Herald Angels Sing. Songs now known specifically as carols were originally folk carols sung during celebrations such as harvest tide and Christmas.

It was only later that Christmas carols began to be sung in the church. Traditionally, chants have often been based on medieval chord patterns, and it is this that gives them their unique and distinctive musical sound. Some songs such as People hodie, Good King Wenceslas and The Holly and the Ivy can be traced directly to the Middle Ages.

They are among the oldest musical compositions still regularly sung. Adeste Fideles appears in its present form in the mid-18th century, although the words may have originated in the 13th century. During the 19th century in the United States, there was a significant adoption of Christmas traditions by Germans and other immigrants, as well as the novels of Charles Dickens, including The Pickwick Circle and A Christmas Carol.

Practices included Christmas parties, door-to-door Christmas carols, sending Christmas cards, gifts, and decorating houses and trees. Christmas music in the United States has been influenced by community and religious music, as well as radio, television, and recordings.

A special Christmas family meal (Christmas dinner) is traditionally an important part of the holiday celebration and the food that is served varies greatly from country to country. Some regions have special Christmas Eve meals, such as Sicily (Italy), where 12 types of fish are served.

In the UK and in countries influenced by its traditions, a standard Christmas meal includes turkey, goose or some other large bird, gravy, potatoes, vegetables, sometimes bread and cider. Special desserts are also prepared, such as Christmas pudding, mince pie, Christmas cake, panettone, pandoro, Christmas log, panforte, nougat and Christmas log. The traditional Central European Christmas meal is fried carp or other fish.