The History of We Wish You a Merry Christmas
Most of our traditional Christmas carols hold deeply religious meaning, but some like, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” have a more humorous twist. The song itself has quite a history, which reflects the wit of the Victorian Era carolers and their love for a traditional Christmas dessert.
The songs composer and author remains unknown, however, it is believed to be a sixteenth century West Country English carol. The song itself was meant for carolers who were hired to entertain the wealthy, in turn, the carolers would receive treats.
2 Lyrical Meaning
The lyrics hold significant meaning from the carolers. The line, “we wish you a merry Christmas,” was simply to greet the household. The lines, “oh, bring us some figgy pudding; we won’t go until we get some,” actually meant the group wanted the treats they often received for payment and they would keep singing until they got them.
3 Caroling Origins
The tradition of caroling was brought about because of its ban in churches during the middle ages. Church-goers then got together and went from door-to-door singing to keep the traditional songs alive.
4 Time Frame
Christmas carols were banned all throughout England between 1647-1660 by Protestant Oliver Cromwell, who thought Christmas should be a solemn day. It was then made popular again during the Victorian Era of the nineteenth century.
5 Fun Fact
Figgy pudding is a traditional English Christmas dessert similar to American Christmas pudding - the term figgy pudding was coined by the song “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Because carolers would often wait at door steps until they received their treats, they were called “waits” by the Victorian English wealthy.