Possibly the most well-known and most recognized American song in the world, Jingle Bells was published in 1867, making it 150 years old this year. Though still so commonly sung today, the sweet holiday tune has a lot of interesting facts that many people don't know!
Below are facts you may not know.
- Jingle Bells was originally titled One Horse Open Sleigh. During a reprint in 1859, it was renamed.
- The jingle was originally for Thanksgiving. While there are several origin stories about the song, the most popular has it that composer Pierpont wrote the song for a Thanksgiving program at his father’s Sunday school and the song proved to be so popular the children were asked to the sing the song again at Christmas, and it has been tied to the latter holiday ever since. This version of the story has been disputed by some historians, however, who believe Jingle Bells was too racy for a Sunday school in the 1850s
- There is some lyrical difference between the original The One Horse Open Sleigh and Jingle Bells. It is speculated that the lyrics had to be changed because they were considered too racy at the time to be performed by children's church choirs. This verse is an example of the so-called racy original lyrics: "Go it while you’re young, Take the girls to night".
- Jingle Bells was the first music to be heard from space in 1965 by astronauts.
- Despite being 150 years old, historians are still debating the when, where, and why of the song’s composition.
- One of the earliest performances found was in a blackface minstrel hall in Boston, a hall called Ordway Hall which was situated in the old Province House on Washington Street in September, 1857.
- Composer Pierpont was an unusual individual for his time. He came from a strict New England Unitarian family who were against slavery. He moved to the South as an organist in Savannah, Georgia. Against his family's wishes, he supported the Confederate cause and wrote several Confederate songs such as Strike for the South and We Conquer or Die.
- Both Medford, Massachusetts and Savannah, Georgia make claim to be where Pierpont wrote JIngle Bells.