Who doesn't love Christmas? The presents, the Christmas cards, the egg nog, the Christmas trees, Santa Claus, the mistletoe, the Christmas movies and TV shows. And, of course, those wonderful Christmas songs.
Ironically, few people realize that many of the classic Christmas "standards" we all sing and hear on the radio and TV and in the movies were actually written or sung by Jews. The following are a list of 8 popular Christmas songs written or sung by Jews.
1. “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)”
The song was co-written by Mel Torme and Robert “Bob" Wells in 1946. Torme is also the singer of the song on the classic record. Both Torme and wells were Jewish. Oddly, this hugely popular Christmas song, which so clearly evokes visions of Christmas time, was written on a hot July day, in the middle of a desert.
2. “Santa Baby"
Without a doubt, the sexiest of all popular Christmas songs- as sung by Eartha Kitt, in her 1953 recording. Madonna later also recorded a version in 1987. No, Madonna is not Jewish ...and neither is Eartha Kitt. “Santa Baby" was mainly written by a Jewish lady named Joan Ellen Javits.
3. “Silver Bells"
The lyrics to this touching Christmas song were written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans- both Jews. This song was originally written for the Bob Hope movie The Lemon Drop Kid in 1951. Hope introduced it to the world- along with his leading lady, Marilyn Maxwell. It remains the only "classic" Christmas song to be introduced in a Hollywood movie.
4. “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow"
Written by the popular song-writing team of Sammy Kahn and Jule Styne, both of whom were Jewish. One of the best versions of the song was sung by Vaughn Monroe. You can hear it at the end of the most macho Christmas movie ever- 1988's Die Hard. [Video contains NSFW language.]
5. “Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
Okay, here's your bar bet of the day... Who is the only person in history to compose three classic Christmas songs? Give up? Well, a very amazing, but little-known, Jewish composer named Johnny Marks (shouldn't he be more famous??) not only wrote the staple “Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree,” but he wasn't content to rest on his laurels.
Amazingly, Marks also wrote “Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” Okay, let's be fair here- this guy was an incredible composer and deserves more notice and fame!
6. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas"
First sung, like “White Christmas,” by Bing Crosby, but a year later- in 1943 (see below). This touching ballad's lyrics were co-written by Buck Ram and Kim Gannon (both Jews).
7. “It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year"
The music for this popular Christmas tune were written by George Wyle, who was Jewish. Oddly, Wyle was to become even more famous (and richer!) for writing the music to a very popular TV show in the '60's. The show?
Gilligan's Island! (Incidentally, the lyrics to the Gilligan's Island theme were also written by a Jew, Sherwood Schwartz- the show's creator).
8. “White Christmas"
Possibly (and probably) the most popular Christmas song of all-time. Bing Crosby introduced “White Christmas" to the public on his NBC radio show The Kraft Music Hall on Christmas Day in 1941. He also sung it in the 1942 movie Holiday Inn. It was reprised by Crosby in the 1954 film White Christmas. Probably because “White Christmas" is the more popular of the two movies, and also because it has the song's name as it's title, many mistakenly think “White Christmas" was first sung in the 1954 film.
“White Christmas" was written by the legendary composer, Irving Berlin, a Jew. As a sad sidebar, Berlin had a very young son who actually died on Christmas Day. According to friends, Berlin always had a sadness on Christmas. Supposedly, he would celebrate Christmas with his surviving children annually, but when they grew up, he never celebrated it again for the rest of his life.