Christmastime is more than a religious holiday, and yes, more than a marketing and shopping frenzy. It’s a time of year when our high tech, cutting edge culture is willing to indulge in nostalgia. Really old fashioned music is playing everywhere you go. Theaters headline plays written over 150 years ago. And, for about three weeks, we just can’t get enough.
The earliest carols were sung thousands of years ago in Europe to celebrate the winter solstice. The songs were retooled to reflect Christianity and have been going strong ever since. “O Come All Ye Faithful” appeared in its current form in the mid 1800’s.
The most popular Christmas song is “White Christmas”, written by Irving Berlin in 1940 and first performed by Bing Crosby in 1941. The achingly nostalgic song is the best selling single of all time, with 50 million copies sold worldwide. More than 500 versions have since been recorded by various artists.
“A Christmas Carol” was written by Charles Dickens in 1843 and still today the theatrical adaptation is a holiday tradition for many families. We used to go see “The Nutcracker” every year as a family until my son and husband rebelled.
Based on the story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E.T.A. Hoffman, the Nutcracker was originally performed as a two act ballet to music by Tchaikovsky in 1892. Today elaborate performances are bread and butter for most American ballet companies, generating up to 40% of annual ticket revenues.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” was produced and directed by Frank Capra in 1946, and is one of the most popular films in American cinema. The movie is based on the short story “The Greatest Gift” written by Phillip Van Doren Stern 75 years ago.
In our society today school curriculums focus on science and technology and career paths in IT and engineering are paved in gold. Considering the challenges facing our planet and the human population, the sciences will be critical.
But while humanities such as such as literature, music, dance and theater have fallen from favor, we’d be wise not to forget them altogether. The popularity of tradition as upheld by music, theater and dance provide us with links to the past. The stories, songs and visions hold truths and morals that we apparently aren’t willing to let go, even in this digital and ever changing world.