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Top 10 Holiday Songs…That Don’t Mention Christmas

by Kimberly on December 15, 2010 · 35 comments

It starts as early as October. It catches you a little off guard when you first hear it. You’re usually our shopping when all of a sudden this little ear worm catches you. Then it happens…you can’t help it…all of a sudden…

You’re singing Christmas songs.

The holidays are generally associated with family, presents, religious merriment, lights, and decorations. But another very important element we often associate with this time of year is music. Whether caroling with neighbors, listening to songs at church, or watching the Christmas episode of Glee, the music of the season helps make the season.

As a music therapist, Christmas songs generally play an important role in my sessions this time of year. It brings comfort to the patients I’ve seen in the hospital and has helped create fond memories for the trauma-influenced children I’ve gone caroling with.

But Christmas is also a Christian holiday…and not all of the clients I see are Christian. So it’s my responsibility to have in my repertoire songs that both celebrate other holidays associated with this time of year (such as Hannukah and the Solstice) as well as non-sacred songs.

With that in mind, here is a list of my top 10 favorite holiday songs–that don’t mention Christmas:

  1. Deck the Hall. This may be the most traditional-sounding, non-Christmas holiday song on this list. A classic song that will put you in the mood to do some decorating.
  2. My Dreydl. Maybe this stems from my years as the Children’s Music Coordinator at my local Unitarian church, but this song screams “Hannukah” to me!
  3. Let It Snow, Let It Snow/Winter Wonderland. I kind of cheated by combining these two songs, but they are both romantic songs that bring up lovely visions of snow and cuddling up next to a fire.
  4. Jingle Bells. This may be one of the first holiday songs children learn and remember. I like it for the story the verses tell (and, yes, there’s more than one verse!).
  5. The Holly and the Ivy. Wait…isn’t this a Christmas song? I’ve included this song on the list because, even though there are Christian verses available, I learned the non-Christian version that doesn’t mention Mary and Jesus. This is a great song to help celebrate the Solstice.
  6. Baby It’s Cold Outside. Let It Snow and Winter Wonderland may be the most romantic holiday songs on this list…but this one’s the sexiest.
  7. Here We Come A Caroling (The Wassail Song). A classic English song that, every year, reminds me that I’ve always wanted to try wassail.
  8. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. This song is old-school and, with it’s message to “be of good cheer,” puts a smile on my face every time I sing it and hear it.
  9. Sleigh Ride. I remember playing this song in band every single year in high school. And, in a rather informal poll on Facebook and Twitter, this song was the one mentioned most as people’s favorite holiday song that doesn’t mention Christmas.
  10. The Chanukkah Song. What can I say? This song makes me laugh…every single time. Adam Sandler’s answer to #2 being the only Hannukah song available?

So did one of your non-Christmas songs not make the list? Let us know by leaving a comment below!


{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Kellee Coviak December 15, 2010 at 1:47 pm

I like to use “Over the River and Through the Woods”. Technically, it’s a Thanksgiving song, but most people associate it with Christmas.

Beth Spear December 16, 2010 at 10:23 am

You really need to try wassail! It is yummy! I remember having it at a Madrigal show awhile back. Thanks for the songs. 🙂 Happy Holidays! The kids I work with love “Jingle Bell rock!”

Parker December 16, 2010 at 4:27 pm

“Hark The Herald Angels Sing” trumps. Who can deny the final scene of a Charlie Brown Christmas when all the peanuts chime in?
.-= Parker´s last blog ..How Are The Lyrics And Tune Of A Song Processed =-.

Natalie Mullis, MT-BC December 17, 2010 at 4:52 pm

I had totally forgotten about The Holly and the Ivy. I sang that in my junior college as part of our madrigal dinner! Memories!!

dJ November 27, 2011 at 7:23 am

“The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” does mention Christmas: “there’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.” (Is telling ghost stories a Christmas tradition I’ve missed out on?)

Kimberly November 27, 2011 at 10:26 am

Good point! And I’m not sure. Those lyrics remind me of the story of Scrooge and his visits from the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. I wonder which came first… ~Kimberly

Steve November 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Actually, “Deck the Halls” refers to the 12 days of Christmas (Yuletide)

Blue June November 14, 2013 at 8:58 pm

A Christmas Carol was written over a century before “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

Christy Stras December 12, 2013 at 11:12 am

Jingle Bell Rock Also…

Christy Stras December 12, 2013 at 11:42 am

Frosty The Snowman doesn’t have any Christmas reference either… technically. March 22, 2014 at 11:05 am

Good website. My thanks for posting this. I will come to this site to find out more and tell my friends about this.

pol November 21, 2014 at 10:28 pm

my friends and I made a “holiday” song. It mentions Christmas, though. Sorry.

Nancy @ Little Homestead in Boise December 7, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Santa Claus is Back in Town by Trish Yearwood, and by Elvis. Cute!!!

Anon December 10, 2014 at 6:48 am

Baby, It’s Cold Outside is a date rape song.

Diane K.C. October 23, 2015 at 6:42 am

‘It’s a Marshmallow World’ is a winter song. And Deck the Halls is a pagan song celebrating the solstice. It brings in the outdoor greenry in hopes that the new year will be abounding with new live. ‘Yuletide’ doesn’t mean Christmas time.
Thank you for ‘the Holly and the Ivy’. I thought that was just a religious song. Didn’t know there were non-Christian lyrics.

Pimtheforestfaun November 14, 2015 at 9:18 pm

In Winnipeg we’re calling Baby It’s Cold Outside the “date rape song” because “hey, what’s in this drink” implies that the visitor has something slipped into the drink, and the host is coercively trying to get the guest to stay. I like your other songs!
I thought that you should be familiar with this viewpoint as a music therapist. Cheers!! Have a lovely solstice!!!

Quratt ul ain Siddique December 3, 2015 at 4:18 pm

Santa is coming to town, Jingle bells, and Let It Snow, Let It Snow/Winter Wonderland.
Great work and great collection

Tariq Abdulla December 3, 2015 at 6:01 pm

If you like some of the traditional religious tunes, there are some great scientific versions here:

Bec De Corbin December 15, 2015 at 9:36 am

The Grinch Song (You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch)

Art December 21, 2015 at 7:47 pm

Sorry, but “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” DOES mention Christmas. Was just listening to is in hopes of adding it to my secular winter album before visiting your site.

Art December 21, 2015 at 8:25 pm

Um, Steve? “Yuletide” is NOT the 12 days of Christmas. It is the pagan holiday that preceded the takeover of the mid-winter holiday by Christians.

By most HISTORICAL accounts, the census that took Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem took place in the spring.

Dave March 17, 2016 at 7:36 am

I’m appalled that some people think “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is a date rape song. Yes, the male character is trying to convince the female character to stay over for a romantic evening. But date rape? Are you kidding me? Frank Loesser, the man who wrote the music, lyrics, and the story for Guys And Dolls wrote this song in 1944. He premiered it with his wife, Lynn, at their housewarming party, and performed it toward the end of the evening, signifying to guests that it was nearly time to end the party. Lynn considered it “their song” and was furious when Frank sold the song to MGM. As for the line in question, “Say, what’s in this drink?”, consider that the female character has already been drinking. She sings, “Well maybe just a half a drink more.” Also consider the female character’s lines “I ought to say, No, no, no sir” and “At least I’m gonna say that I tried.” She’s already on her way to agreeing to stay. She’s more concerned with what people will say if they find out she stays over, NOT with the male character’s intentions. She fully knows what he wants, and she wants the same thing. She just wants to preserve her reputation. At the end of the song she chimes in with the male character, in full voice, “Baby it’s cold outside.”

Feminists like Zooey Deschanel, Sigourney Weaver. Mayim Bialik and K.T. Oslin have performed this song. So have Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta -and they switched the parts! I guess SHE was trying to date rape HIM!

Political correctness and hyper-sensitivity, combined with taking things out of context, is undermining American culture. And when a country’s culture degrades the country ceases to be relevant. Please don’t give in to weak-mindedness. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is a classic, tongue-in-cheek romantic duet. It was meant to be fun, so lighten up, everyone!

Kevin M Jones December 2, 2016 at 10:15 am

Out of context anti-patriot shaming is also undermining US culture. The holiday season isn’t exclusive to to the US. To complain about hyper-sensitivity and concurrently be appalled about someone’s perspective on a holiday song is a tad ironic. Correction is welcomed, but making everything about the US is hyperbolic.

Hrmrocket December 9, 2016 at 7:14 pm

Good King Wenceclas? The Feast of Stephen is a day or two after Christmas and not related to it.

Hrmrocket December 9, 2016 at 7:14 pm

Good King Wenceslas? The Feast of Stephen is a day or two after Christmas and not related to it.

Hannah October 18, 2017 at 1:17 pm

Suzy Snowflake is a great ‘snow’ related song!
Where did you find the non religious lyrics of The Holly & Ivy?

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Peggy November 29, 2017 at 2:12 pm

What about Jingle Bell Rock?

Lynn December 4, 2017 at 4:37 pm

#1, Deck the Halls, does mention Yule, which means Christmas.

John December 13, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Why do people get their panties in a wad on these sites? get over it.

David S. December 23, 2017 at 12:45 pm

I believe It Came Upon the Midnight Clear does not mention Christmas (according to a note in one of my piano music books).

DanTheManWithoutAband December 25, 2017 at 4:40 pm

Winter officially begins on Dec. 21st the winter solstice. But because of tradition that began way back when(?), all winter themed music and songs are lumped in with Christmas (both Christian and secular) music, so when Dec. 26th comes and the Christmas music stops, so does the other, and winter has barely begun! That makes me FURIOUS! I wish they were separated so that during the cold winter months I could enjoy the warmth of the beautiful music that really doesn’t have much in common with Christmas! Commercialization of Christmas to try to make as much profit as possible is responsible for Christmas music starting as early as Halloween in some markets. That means most people are sick of it by Christmas so the (winter) babies get thrown out with the bathwater [prematurely]!
And in case you’re curious, I am a born again, baptized, committed follower of my LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS the CHRIST and I celebrate his birth every year at this time along with ALL of His people.

Barbara D December 28, 2017 at 9:47 am

What about the song Angels We Have Heard On High? Or the song Hallelujah?
They do not sound like Christmas songs to me. Also, what about Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire? These are a few songs that sound like non-Christmas songs to me.

Barbara D December 28, 2017 at 9:48 am

Also, what about the song Silent Night?

Barbara D December 28, 2017 at 9:49 am

And O Come All Ye Faithful?

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