What is Caroling?

Caroling occurs when a group of people sings Christmas songs together. During the holiday season, many people around the world, including those who are not religious, participate in caroling. In some communities, the tradition of traveling as a group to sing carols to people in their homes is still alive and well. A caroling party is a fun way to spend the holidays with friends and family, and it’s relatively simple to put together.

Christmas carols are based on secular French caroles from the 1100s, which were written to accompany dances. People sang these songs at dances and gatherings until the late 1300s, and many of them were quite complex, with multi-part harmonies and singing in the round, emphasizing counterpoints between the voices of various singers. Many of these songs developed religious or holiday themes over time, and the Christmas carol was born.

Many Christmas carols are secular rather than religious, and they are meant to commemorate the season rather than a specific holiday. Ice, hot drinks, and fellowship are common themes in carols, with more religious carols referencing the birth of Christ and other religious events. Many of these carols have ancient tunes, and while the words may have changed over time, people have been singing them for hundreds of years. Carols can also be quite lovely when sung in harmony.

Carols are typically upbeat songs of praise and joy, and caroling is intended to spread joy, goodwill, and friendship. Caroling is usually accompanied holiday treats such as cookies, spiced cider, cocoa, egg nog, and other seasonal favorites in a private home. Carolers tend to band together regardless of ability, though those with less vocal prowess may face some friendly teasing from the crowd.

Carolers can also get together and travel from house to house as a group. Caroling can be very helpful to people who are housebound, as it brings a little bit of the holiday season to them. Carolers may also carry charity baskets and small gifts for people in need, depending on the organization doing the caroling, and some people may offer warm drinks or treats to the carolers when they visit. This charming tradition is distinctly unpleasant for people who dislike Christmas carols, though carolers can usually be deterred turning off porch lights or keeping the front of a house dark.