Thanksgiving is coming and there are many stories, myths, and facts that people tell each other. One of the more interesting questions I’ve been asked is, “Which song was originally written for the Thanksgiving holiday?” Well, it’s so interesting to discover trivia about favorite holiday tunes!
From delicious desserts to dazzling decorations, the holiday season is a time to celebrate. Of course, celebrations often involve music. Thanksgiving and Christmas are also pretty close together and did you know the fun fact that one of the most classic Christmas carols was originally written for a completely different holiday – Thanksgiving. Curious what song it is? This is also the answer to the question “Which song was originally written for the Thanksgiving holiday” that you are looking for.
Which Song Was Originally Written For The Thanksgiving Holiday?
Back to the question: Which song was originally written for the Thanksgiving holiday?”. It’s Jingle Bells.
The Christmas season not only eclipsed Thanksgiving but also stole one of its super classics: ‘Jingle Bells’. I’m sure both children and adults around the world know the lyrics to this song by heart (at least the first verse or humming its tune). However, few people probably know that this Christmas song was actually written in the early 1850s as a Thanksgiving song.
Inspired by watching sled races in Medford, Mass., James Lord Pierpont wrote and published the song in 1857 for his father’s Sunday Class Thanksgiving performance. The rhythm of the melody imitates the rhythm of the trotting horse bell.
In New England in the days before the automobile, people used to decorate horse bell straps as a way to avoid collisions at blind intersections, because the horse-drawn sled in the snow makes almost no noise.
Pierpont’s song was such a huge success in the Thanksgiving performance that it was performed again on Christmas Day. Two years later, it was published a second time with the familiar name we know today.
Some Interesting Facts About Jingle Bells
As shared above, Jingle Bells’ was originally written to be sung at Thanksgiving. We didn’t believe it either until we dug deep and we also discovered some interesting facts regarding this legendary song.
Jingle Bells was composed by James Lord Pierpont
Jingle Bells was composed by James Lord Pierpont. Pierpont was born in 1822 in Boston, Massachusetts. He is a member of a talented and wealthy family. His older sister, Juliet, is married to millionaire Junius Spencer Morgan. Their son, and grandson of Piperpoint, is John Piperpont Morgan – the founder of one of the largest financial institutions in the world.
Although Piperpont wrote a song that was turned into a holiday classic, he was by no means a family man. Growing up as the son of a strict abolitionist may have played a part in his character and demeanor.
How ‘Jingle Bells’ Became a Christmas Song
During a Thanksgiving service, he led the congregation in a performance of Jingle Bells. Churchgoers loved it so much that he performed again a month and, incidentally, then at Christmas. And as a result, the song became a Christmas carol specifically for the city of Savannah.
Indeed, if you listen to the lyrics, you’ll notice there’s really no mention of Christmas, Thanksgiving or any holiday. The only part of the holiday-related song is the mention of snow – and well, snow and November are not mutually exclusive. Of course, that hasn’t stopped Jingle Bells from becoming a classic and always on holiday playlists.
Where was the song Jingle Bells born?
There is an argument here that both historic sites in the two cities claim to be the birthplace of Jingle Bells.
In the city of Medford in Massachusetts, a plaque claims that Pierpont wrote the song in 1850 while sitting in a pub watching sleigh races on Salem Street. This is controversial because Hamill’s research suggests that Pierpont could not have written the song in 1850 because he was making money during the California Gold Rush.
There is also a plaque in Savannah, Georgia, which states that the song was written as late as 1857 before it was first sung in a local church.
Meanwhile, Hamill said that Pierpont most likely wrote the song in a rented house not far from where he lived in downtown Boston in 1857.
The original ‘Jingle Bells’
A day or two ago
I thought I’d take a ride
And soon, Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side,
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And then we got upsot.
A day or two ago,
The story I must tell
I went out on the snow,
And on my back I fell;
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh,
He laughed as there I sprawling lie,
But quickly drove away.
Now the ground is white
Go it while you’re young,
Take the girls tonight
and sing this sleighing song;
Just get a bobtailed bay
Two forty as his speed
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack! you’ll take the lead
The original version of this song is less well known. It depicts girls picking up, snow rickshaw racing, and a high-speed crash. In the last verse, there is “go it while you’re young” as a secular standard and there is no mention of a holy or silent night.
Jingle Bells was the first song to be played from space
On December 16, 1965, in space, Gemini 6 astronauts Walter M. “Wally” Schirra Jr. and Thomas P. Stafford met Gemini 7 astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell and joked with the ground control tower that they saw Santa driving… the spaceship and played Jingle Bells on the harmonica and transmit it from space to earth.
The original name of the song was One Horse Open Sleigh
The song was originally titled One Horse Open Sleigh when it was written in 1857, with unconventional content for the church that included sledding horse racing, dating, and betting. Later, Pierpont copyrighted it as “Jingle Bells, or One Horse Open Sleigh”.
Best Thanksgiving Gift For Everyone
Your question: ” Which song was originally written for the Thanksgiving holiday” has been answered. And now it’s time to browse through great gifts from our favorite Thanksgiving gift collection. Give your loved one one of the items below to surprise them.
WKRP Turkey Drop Shirt As God Is My Witness Thanksgiving Shirt$15.99
Garden Shirt Plants Music Notes$15.99
Turkey Nurse Shirt Stethoscope Happy Thanksgiving$15.99
Made In 1975 Shirt Limited Edition$15.99
Thanksgiving Teacher Shirt I Teach The Cutest Little Turkey$15.99
Thanksgiving Owl Shirt Owl And Thanksgiving Party$15.99
So, now you know which song was originally written for the Thanksgiving holiday. “Jingle Bells” or “The One Horse Open Sleigh” is about rushing through the snow to celebrate Thanksgiving, not Christmas. An interesting fact, isn’t it?