christmas bells have been used in religious and secular traditions throughout history to signal the arrival of visitors and other special events. Christmas bells come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and each one has a special meaning and history associated with it.
Types and Meanings of Christmas Bells
Sleigh bells, church bells, and other types of hand bells are well-known Christmas symbols. Each type of bell evokes memories of past Christmases, usually accompanied by Christmas music.
Church Bells Ringing in Christmas
It is common for churches to ring the bells at midnight on Christmas Eve for their midnight services.
Church bells ring at midnight on Christmas Eve to signal the beginning of Christmas Eve services, which are widely believed to mark the birth of Jesus Christ.
The sleigh bell is yet another type of Christmas bell that is very common. This particular style of bell was intended to be worn by horses as a cautionary measure to any pedestrians who might be nearby.
The Christmas song “Jingle Bells” is largely responsible for the widespread popularity of this holiday bell. The clapper that is housed within the metal sphere balls of sleigh bells is responsible for producing the lilting melody, as stated by Your Dictionary.
When the clapper is used to strike the inside walls of the sphere, the bell has a little open slit that allows for a higher pitched sound to be produced.
Since ancient times, the clanging of hand-held bells has been used into various rituals and public announcements, such as the practice of a town crier proclaiming the day’s news. Carols and songs associated with Christmas are performed by handbell groups as part of a beautiful musical celebration of the holiday season.
Other Uses of Christmas Bells
Christmas bells are an essential component of the holiday season and can be found inside people’s homes in the form of ornaments for Christmas trees and other holiday decorations. Several of these include the following:
- There are instances where bells are used into the design of a Christmas wreath or garland.
- There may be sleigh bells swinging from a loop of braided rope that is attached to the doorknob.
- Santa hats typically have a pompom in the shape of a sleigh bell for Christmas.
- Some elf costumes include a sleigh bell that is worn around the curled toes of the wearer’s elf shoes.
- There are bells incorporated into a lot of different pieces of Christmas jewelry, and some of them are even real bells.
- Bell tones are played from computerized versions of Christmas carols in certain pieces of Christmas costume jewelry.
- During the holiday season, bells are frequently included into the patterns of famous items such as china, glasses, and table linens.
- At Christmastime, soaps in the shape of bells are displayed in the soap dishes of guest restrooms.
The Story Behind I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
The tale of how Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, which was eventually turned into the Christmas song I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, came to be is bittersweet, and the poem itself served as a form of therapy for the author when he was suffering from a broken heart.
Wadsworth’s grief was compounded during the American Civil War by the fact that his cherished wife had passed away in 1861 as the result of a strange accident, and his son had been injured in combat during the war.
The depth of his protracted anguish becomes more clear after you have a full comprehension of the content of the poem.
Loss of His Beloved Wife
When Fanny’s dress inadvertently caught fire, Henry made several attempts to extinguish the blaze that had engulfed his wife.
Unfortunately, Fanny passed away as a result of the trauma and the burns. Henry suffered significant burns but made a full recovery. However, the loss caused him to fall into a severe depression.
Son Wounded in Battle
In the year 1863, Henry’s greatest source of anguish was compounded when his oldest son was hurt in combat during the American Civil War.
After making a hasty trip to Washington, District of Columbia, to be with his kid, he fell into an even deeper despair.
Henry sat by his son’s bedside on Christmas day and listened to the bells of the church ringing and the voices of the congregation singing as they raised their voices.
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, which would go on to become one of the most popular Christmas melodies, was born out of the suffering that he through.
Meaning of Christmas Poem
The verses of the poem “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow are where the meaning of the poem can be found (lyrics).
The progression of the poem that was inspired by Christmas shows his misery and pain more clearly, but by the time it gets to the final line, there is a resounding pealing of hope in his words.
About the Christmas Song
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day is a popular Christmas carol that was initially based on most of Longfellow’s poem.
However, over the years, there have been many different versions of the song, and the most of them omit the lyric stanzas that discuss the Civil War.
Carol of the Bells
1914 was the year that Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych created the first version of the music. It comes from a traditional Ukrainian folk song called Shchedryk, which translates to “Bountiful Evening.
Because it told the story of a swallow bringing good news of enormous fortune, the song was also referred to as The Little Swallow at one point.
Transforming Shchedryk into Christmas Song
Leontovych was given the task of writing the song in order to have it performed at a Christmas event.
The original folksong provided him with four notes, which he used. At Carnegie Hall in 1921, the song was given its debut performance in the United States for the very first time.
In 1936, an American choir conductor and arranger named Peter Wilhousky rewrote the song’s lyrics, obtained copyright protection for them, and published the music under the new title Carol of the Bells.
With the revised lyrics, the mystique of the season was brought to the foreground, and the bells ringing represented the joy of people celebrating Christmas.
According to Song Facts, the song Silver Bells was originally known by its original name, Tinkle Bell.
The song was originally titled “The Lemon Drop Kid,” but the title was altered before it was used in the 1951 film starring Bob Hope. Jay Livingston and Ray Evans were the authors of the song.
After his wife pointed out the restroom connotation of the song title, Livingston’s recommendation to modify the title was made after she made the suggestion.
The songwriters decided to modify the name of the song to Silver Bells, and Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell were the ones who performed it in the movie.
The miniature bell that Livingston kept on his desk served as the basis for the bell emblem. The arrival of the Christmas season is signaled by the pealing of bells.
Jingle Bells, a cheery and humorous Christmas carol, has been a perennial favorite at holiday gatherings for as long as anybody can remember.
There is a plaque in front of Rossetti Optique on High Street in Medford, Massachusetts that was placed there by the Medford Historical Society.
The monument states that the song was penned by James Pierpont Lord. In 1857, Lord released the song under the title One Horse Open Sleigh when it was first published.
The song was originally composed to honor the horse-drawn sleigh races that were common during the Thanksgiving season.
However, it quickly became a popular tune during the Christmas season and was renamed “Jingle Bells.”
The tune is upbeat and exudes the joy that comes with the holiday season by describing a merry go lucky sleigh ride complete with the jingling of the bells worn by the horses.
Different Cultures and the Use of Christmas Bells Throughout History
In order to sound an alarm to the local populace, christmas bells have been employed since ancient times.
These alerts can be notifications of good or bad news, celebrations, signifiers of important occasions such as a wedding, or as urgent cautions that a natural disaster such as a landslide or flood is impending.
Other possible uses include all of these things and more. Victories, coronations, New Year’s Day, invading armies, and a variety of other unexpected events have all been marked by the tolling of christmass bells.
In some places, the tolling of christmas bells has traditionally served as a signal that the immediate threat has been eliminated.
Ancient Warding Off Evil
Since ancient times, the sound of a ringing christmas bell, coupled with the sound of drums and horns, has been employed in rituals to frighten away evil spirits, demons, devils, and other harmful beings of the spirit world.
Other instruments, such as horns and drums, have also been used. In the past, hunters have employed christmas bells, horns, and drums to coax animals toward an ambush that was waiting for them.
Joyous Celebrations With Christmas Bells
These very same christmas bells were rung in celebration of happy events, such as marriages, births, and different ceremonies associated with the changing of the seasons. Many different religious events included the ringing of christmas bells as an integral part of the rituals.
The ancient Chinese musical instrument known as the bianzhong was made up of several rows of bronze bells that were played by striking them with a mallet.
Large bells were crafted, hung in church towers and steeples, and rung as a call to worship in many Christian communities.
In addition, on Christmas Eve, at twelve o’clock midnight, these christmas bells are rung to announce the birth of Jesus Christ in history.
Enjoying Christmas Bells Traditions, Symbols, and History
The addition of bells to the Christmas celebration adds a beautiful touch. These heraldic emblems have become an integral element of the Christmas season and can be seen in music, decorations, and even the interior design of homes.
They can even be found in jewelry and fashion. One of the many ways that people commemorate Christmas and the birth of Jesus is by ringing christmas bells.