The history of Christmas Carols goes back thousands of years starting in Europe.
They began as pagan songs performed while people danced around a stone circle during
Winter Solstice. Carols were sung for all four seasons but the tradition of singing
carols during the Christmas seasons is the only tradition that remained. The word
"carol" stems from Latin and Middle English and means a song of joy, praise or dance.
Christians took on the pagan celebration of Winter Solstice and replaced it with celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, or Christmas. It was at these celebrations that Christmas carols came to be. Some of the earliest carols date back to 25 AD. A Roman Catholic bishop declared that an "Angel Song" should be sung during a Christmas service in Rome. In 760 AD, composer Comas of Jerusalem wrote a carol for the Greek Orthodox Church. Not long after, other composers began writing carols, but they were initially composed in Latin and were not easily understood by most people. In 1223 AD, St. Francis of Assisi began his 'Nativity Plays' with 'Canticles' which told stories of the nativity. In the Elizabethan period, carols were songs loosely based on the story of Christmas and were sung for entertainment purposes and not to be sung in church. Before singing carols in public became popular, there were official carolers called 'waits'. Waits were people sanctioned by the local officials to sing carols on Christmas Eve and collect money for the poor. Over the years it became very popular to sing carols during church services, as well as going door to door, and singing in the streets for all to hear.