Unconventional Holiday Songs
Dec 17, 2012 | Category: Stream of brilliance
Chuck Whitmore

Here on Music Mountain, we love pumping up the holiday jams. And perhaps this is our musical roots speaking, but there are some holiday songs that leave us thinking, “where in the world did this come from!?” So instead of singing along blindly to songs about Italian Christmas donkeys, hippos, and wonderlands … we did a little research as to how they came to be.

Dominick the Donkey – Lou Monte: “Ay, Jing-a-di-jing hee haw hee haw …” wait, what? Although the song is loosely based on Italian folklore, Dominick the Donkey happens to be a well-known symbol of Christmas in Italy. The song depicts the Italian Christmas Donkey as one of Santa’s helpers, delivering presents to good little girls and boys in Italy.

I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas- Gayla Peevey: Some people dream of ponies for presents, while child star, Gayla Peevey dreamt of a hippo. After Peevey’s song became a national hit, a Detroit-based promoter started a campaign to present her with a hippopotamus on Christmas Day. Peevey then did what any sane person would do – donate it to the local city zoo. Her hippopotamus, Matilda, ended up living for nearly 50 years.

Carol of the Bells – Trans Siberian Orchestra: Looking for a holiday fight song? We think Carol of the Bells fits that bill. With no words, only intense instrumentals, this one is sure to get you pumped up for the season. Based on a traditional folk chant, it was associated with the coming New Year which, in pre-Christian Ukraine, was originally celebrated with the coming of spring in April.

Winter Wonderland – Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith:Covered by greats like Ella Fitzgerald (a Music Mountain alum), this beautiful song is a staple for the holiday season, even though there is absolutely no holiday mention within it. Smith reportedly became inspired to write the song after seeing Honesdale’s Central Park covered in snow. To think where we would be without Smith seeing that “beautiful sight.”