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The list: 6 things you didn’t know about Christmas carols

Cartoon illustrations of xmas carols
The Christmas Carols stamps illustrate four beloved holiday standards: “Deck the Halls,” “Silent Night,” “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas” and “Jingle Bells.”

You know the Postal Service released its Christmas Carols stamps last week, but how much do you know about the songs themselves? “The list” is here to fill in the blanks.

1. “Silent Night” is not performed in Austria until Dec. 24. Traditionally, the first performance is during a special service at St. Nicholas Church, where organist Franz Gruber put priest Joseph Mohr’s original poem to music in 1818.

2. The composer of “Jolly Old St. Nicholas” is unknown. The lyrics were adapted from the 1865 poem “Lilly’s Secret” by author and poet Emily Huntington Miller.

3. “Deck the Halls” is a Welsh tune given English lyrics in the mid-1800s. The lyrics first appeared in the United States under the title “Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly” in 1881.

4. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was created for a free children’s coloring book. Montgomery Ward department store copywriter Robert May wrote 89 rhyming couplets about the misfit character in 1939, 10 years before the poem was adapted to music.

5. “Jingle Bells” was the first song played in space. In December 1965, two Gemini 6A astronauts broadcast the tune over a radio to their sister spacecraft, Gemini 7, using an eight-note harmonica and bells.

6. “White Christmas” was used as a signal during the Vietnam War. In April 1975, American Forces Radio played the out-of-season tune as a sign to Americans in Saigon that it was time to evacuate.

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