Holiday songs about joy and gratitude, non-Jesus edition
November 29, 2018 7:48 AM   Subscribe

Can you suggest holiday songs that express the themes of joy or gratitude but are not primarily about Jesus (e.g., no "Joy to the World")?

I've had an unexpectedly awesome year, one in which I've reclaimed my ability to experience deep-seated joy, and I'm so grateful for the way things have unfolded. I'm playing with the idea of creating an artistic work that communicates those feelings, but I'm having trouble coming up with the right song.

* Expresses the feelings of joy or gratitude
* Not explicitly Jesus-y, though more general expressions of faith are fine
* Not focused on romance/falling in love (fine if that's one component, but that's only one small part of my story, so focusing on that would be a mismatch)
* Uptempo songs preferred, but I'll take anything you can think of
* No preference as to the gender of the singer

Are there any songs that fit this description?
posted by timestep to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Jingle Bell Rock? I get it stuck in my head this time of the year and it's quite peppy, depending on which cover you're thinking of.

(Just to clarify, you're looking for songs about Christmas that aren't explicitly religious? I think part of the problem is that "the holiday" really is a Christian one so you will run into quite a few that do have explicitly Christian themes...)
posted by epanalepsis at 7:56 AM on November 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Tim Minchin's White Wine in the Sun isn't precisely what you're looking for, but it's close and I love it.
posted by griseus at 7:57 AM on November 29, 2018 [8 favorites]

"The Boar's Head Carol."
"Strike Up Your Instruments of Joy."
Few holiday songs give me more joy than "Linus and Lucy."
posted by Melismata at 8:09 AM on November 29, 2018

Warning on "White Wine in the Sun", it makes me big ugly sob every single time. Shut your office door first.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:13 AM on November 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I guess I was thinking holiday songs specifically because they often have that sentiment of reflection to them. I'm willing to think outside the box here, though.

"My Favorite Things" would be close to the kind of song I'm thinking of (except that I have a deeply held belief that that is not, in fact, a holiday song).

I am a (progressive) Christian and my faith is important to me, so "White Wine in the Sun" is a mismatch, unfortunately. Those lyrics ripped my heart out, though! I would just feel weird tap dancing to something that was too Jesus-y.
posted by timestep at 8:21 AM on November 29, 2018

I'm listing some options below but for your specifications I think your best bet might be Thankful Heart from Muppet Christmas Carol? Or Ding Dong Merrily on High (has hosannas but isn't too Jesusy) which definitely makes me feel full of joy and gratitude. Here are some other ideas that I hope are helpful:

-Perhaps too Jesusy but Do You Hear What I Hear -- it doesn't explicitly mention Jesus but does include "a child" who will "bring us goodness and light" (I'm a Christian but even so I kind of think of this as the miracle that is any child born full of potential and deserving of our love and care)
-Also from Muppet Christmas Carol: It Feels Like Christmas
-Feliz Navidad? Upbeat and it makes me happy even if it's silly
-Maybe not what you're looking for but I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas is a classic
-Deck the Halls is Christmasy but not too Jesusy

So happy for you that you are feeling able to be joyful!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:22 AM on November 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Who Is It, by Björk, specifically the bell choir mix.
posted by rollick at 8:23 AM on November 29, 2018

Best answer: Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas by the Eels
posted by corey flood at 8:41 AM on November 29, 2018

Home for the Holidays, The Carpenters
posted by koucha at 8:48 AM on November 29, 2018

"Walking in a Winter Wonderland?"
posted by praemunire at 9:00 AM on November 29, 2018

Best answer: Bing Crosby's "I've Got Plenty to be Thankful For"
posted by sarajane at 9:03 AM on November 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Amy Grant's "The Night Before Christmas"?
posted by Flannery Culp at 9:14 AM on November 29, 2018

Joy to the World (Jeremiah was a bullfrog) (NOT THE SAME ONE, I promise I read your question) does it for me quite a lot. To me this qualifies as a holiday song because it was in Scrooged.

Non-holiday picks:

Also It's a Wonderful World or my favourite mash-up, the Israel Kamakawiwoʻole Over the Rainbow/It's a Wonderful World version. Not up tempo though.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:19 AM on November 29, 2018

I’m not sure if this is exactly what you’re looking for, but “Christmas Is” by Run-DMC is one of my favorites; not explicitly Jesus-y, all about giving, and upbeat! “Fight poverty, give to the needy; Don't be like The Grinch cause The Grinch is greedy”
posted by sucre at 10:30 AM on November 29, 2018

Not a holiday song, but it does mention holidays, Accidentally Kelly Street (I never thought life could be so sweet) is a bright happy song about enjoying life and small pleasures.
It's sunday everyday
And there's no need to rush around
Inside of everybody there's sun
And laughter to be found
It seems that we're on holidays
And sleeping in is not a sin
All the housework's done by teatime
I'm feeling good about
The way i've been
posted by Thella at 10:31 AM on November 29, 2018

Best answer: Maybe try Tracey Thorn's Joy.
posted by gudrun at 10:32 AM on November 29, 2018

Deck the halls with boughs of holly? It’s festive, traditional, upbeat and not religious.

Or Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody or Wizzard’s I wish it could be Christmas every day? They are UK Xmas staples from the 70s which are non-religious and upbeat. As is Step into Christmas by Elton John.
posted by plonkee at 11:02 AM on November 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Dar Williams's The Christians and the Pagans, maybe?
posted by Lexica at 11:19 AM on November 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Andy Williams' version of The Most Wonderful Time of the Year really does it for me!
posted by cooker girl at 11:46 AM on November 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

How about Count Your Blessings?—it's literally about taking time to consider what you're thankful for, and I'd argue despite the word "blessings", it's not a religious song by any stretch, it's clearly meant much more generally.

There are a number of versions, in addition to the (probably most well-known) Bing Crosby one. Here's one by Rosemary Clooney if you prefer a female vocalist. There are probably more contemporary renditions too; I just stuck to the classic ones.

There are a number of Bing Crosby / Irving Berlin standards that aren't explicitly religious, but I'm not sure how specifically you want them to involve the theme of thankfulness/gratitude, though. A lot are about snow, winter, wishing people Merry Christmas, etc., and express good cheer and hopefulness, but I'm not sure if that's getting at exactly what you want. E.g. The Christmas Song (aka Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire); Christmas in Killarney is about family, there's a mention of a priest but it's not a religious song per se; You're All I Want For Christmas has the gratitude thing going on, but it's pretty clearly a romantic song; and of course there's always Mele Kalikimaka with the general "merry Christmas" theme, but it's sort of been crushed under the weight of National Lampoon in the collective consciousness.

There's also Let's Start the New Year Right, which doesn't get a lot of radio-play except for the narrow Christmas-to-New-Year window. It's more forward-looking than focused on gratitude, but I think the sentiment of the song works.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:24 PM on November 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Christmas Pics by Barenaked Ladies.
posted by johnxlibris at 6:52 AM on November 30, 2018

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