As I announced on Christmas Eve, I decided to start a “12 days of Christmas” music experiment on this blog. One song a day, with a few comments about some of them. Not ranked.
Second up is a brand new song! I wish I had time to polish the recording and add a couple of things, but I want to get it out now before it is too late, because it is called “Christmas Party.” (Not that you can’t swap out “Christmas party” for “solstice party” or “holiday party” or even “Saturnalia.”) To rush this out now, even if it is still fairly “raw,” is part of not making the perfect into an enemy of the good.
The first time I heard this song, three weeks ago, was in a streamed concert that I will talk about in a later installment of this series. [Update: here it is.] I did not understand a single word of it other than what seemed to be “Yule lights.” But the song was stunningly great, so I decided to go with the tune and write some words that seemed to fit—then compare them to the original meanings later, whenever I discovered them.
After my “first draft” was done, I learned that this is a traditional Scandinavian song with many versions, associated loosely with the St. Lucia day rituals near the solstice, and that this particular form of the music was developed by Esbjörn Hazelius.
All this is fascinating because my circle of friends and family, on average, knows more about Scandinavian tradition than 95% of people from the US, and then I know more about it than most of my friends. Yet I didn’t know anything about this song until now. If you are reading and you know more, please tell me.
My instinct was to put an experience of pain (or sorrow, or darkness) at mid-winter into contrast with the hopes of joy or light. Happily that turned out to structure the traditional song, too, in which the repeating lines at the end of each verse mean roughly “although it is still dark, the starlight still twinkles.” Of course that has clear resonance when sung in mid-winter in Sweden.
But I am getting ahead of myself. I will bring this song back later in my 12 songs series and then I want to say more about the Scandinavian aspects. Today I want to focus on the Christmas party.
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