December 25: Reflection on Favorite Christmas Carols

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This activity gives young people the opportunity to enjoy their favorite Christmas songs while exploring the original meaning of Christmas.

Reflection on Favorite Christmas Carols

Have the students, as a class, decide on their five favorite Christmas carols. To help them, take time to actually listen to Christmas carols in class. Doing this out of season will strike some students as "weird," but tell them that doing so is the best way to jog their memory.

After the students have made their selections, assign each of the carols to a small groups of students asking them to do three things:

1. Discuss how this and other Christmas carols might be understood as "infancy narratives," that is, as artistic creations intended to respond to our real needs, just as Matthew's and Luke's narratives responded to the needs of their respective audiences.

2. Identify any lyrics that seem to have their origin in one or both of the infancy narratives.

3. Offer some explanation for the lyrics that are not directly tied to the Scriptures. Why, do you think, did the songwriter include them? Do they make any sense in our contemporary world? If not, why do they still touch us deeply--so deeply that the song was selected as a favorite?

At the end of the small-group work, call everyone together and discuss what the small groups arrived at regarding their respective carols. Then ask the students to name popular Christmas songs that have little or nothing to do with the original meaning of Christmas. Elicit the students' opinions on why those songs are popular.


(This activity is taken from the Teaching Manual for Jesus of History, Christ of Faith, by Thomas Zanzig [Winona, MN: Saint Mary's Press, 1999], page 108. Copyright & copy; 1999 by Saint Mary's Press. Permission is granted for this activity to be used for classroom or campus ministry purposes. This activity may not be republished in any form without written permission from Saint Mary's Press. To order this book, contact Saint Mary's Press at 800-533-8095, or shop for Jesus of History, Christ of Faith online.)

Published November 6, 2003.