In my research on Christmas carols, it’s been interesting to discover what an influence pagan – or pre-Christian – traditions had on the music we know and enjoy today. I’ve already written about the pre-Christian influence on “Deck the Halls” but it turns out that all Christmas carols derive from the pre-Christian tradition of a ring-dance, which were festive dances with singing and musical instruments.
Because the Catholic Church at the time frowned on these pre-Christian holdover traditions, they prohibited caroling in the church. Over time, however, the church adopted the practice. Supposedly, the first Christmas carol was sung in an Austrian church in the 1700s, but Italy also claims it was the first country to produce Christmas carols.