Let’s celebrate story of Jesus’ birth this holiday seasonLet’s celebrate story of Jesus’ birth this holiday season


“Santa Claus is Coming to Town” was written

80 years ago but was not expected to achieve popularity because it was a children’s song.

Two years later, however, in November 1934, Eddie Cantor sang it on his radio program, and the next day 100,000 copies of the sheet music were ordered and 30,000 records were sold.

By Christmas, more than 400,000 copies of the music were bought. Many different singers have sung it since.

While it is classified as a Christmas song and sung today, it is not about Jesus; it’s about Santa Claus. It uses ideas from folklore such as bad children won’t receive any gifts from Santa. It does not say this in words, but it is there in idea. Also, not stated in words is the old fable that naughty children will find a lump of coal in their stocking.

The message of this song is simple — be good because Santa Claus is coming. Haven Gillespie, the writer of words, tells children:

“You better watch out.

You better not cry.

Better not pout,

I’m telling you why

Santa Claus is coming to town.”

Then he gives them a reason or two to be good:

“He’s making a list

And checking it twice;

Gonna find out

Who’s naughty and nice.

Santa Claus is coming to town.”

In the next words he scares them by telling them Santa knows everything they do and they won’t be able to lie about their bad behavior.

“He sees you when you’re sleeping.

He knows when you’re awake.

He knows if you’ve been bad or good.

So be good for goodness sake.”

Christmas traditions and folklore expressed in songs can be fun for children to sing and learn.

Children, however, will benefit the most when they are taught the story of Jesus and hear songs about his miraculous birth.

The Rev. David Parry, pastor at First Church of God in Seymour, 625 E. Fourth St., writes a column for The Tribune two times a month.

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