10 Facts About Your Favorite Christmas Carols

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By Glen Gower, @XmasCarolFacts

Every year on Christmas Eve, families gather around the piano and sing carols. Some of these little ditties date back centuries, and the stories behind them are fascinating. I thought it would be fun to collect some of my favorite Christmas music facts and publish them on Twitter. Here are just a few of my favorites.

1. Felix Mendelssohn composed the tune to "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" as a tribute to printer/inventor Johann Gutenberg.
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2. Dick Smith wrote the words for "Winter Wonderland" while recovering from tuberculosis in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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3. Australians have their own version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" where all of the animals are replaced by wildlife from down under.

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4. "Do You Hear What I Hear" was inspired by the Cuban Missile Crisis.
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5. "O Holy Night" was the second piece of music to ever be broadcast on radio, in 1906.
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6. In "Up on the Housetop," Santa brings one of the kids a hammer and tacks. Another child gets a whip.
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7. Elvis recorded "White Christmas" in 1957. Composer Irving Berlin tried to get it banned from the radio.
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8. Gemini 7 astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell asked to have "I'll Be Home For Christmas" played for them while they were in orbit in 1965.
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9. The original lyric for "Silver Bells" was actually "Tinkle Bells," inspired by a tiny bell on the desk of composers Livingston and Evans.
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10. The Grand Hotel from "It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas" is believed to be in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

When I'm not practicing Christmas music on the piano, I'm an Ottawa-based writer and producer. You can follow me on Twitter the rest of the year @glengower.

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December 21, 2012 - 6:30pm
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