When we hear the opening bars of the festive anthem, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, we're immediately transported to the winter wonderland of Christmas. Since it was recorded by crooner Andy Williams in 1963, the song has been a staple of Christmas for more than 50 years.
As we're nearing the most joyful time of year, the song evokes the warm feelings of the festive season, highlighting the smells, sounds, laughter and emotions that make it such a special time. Written by song writing team, Edward Pola and George Wyle, Williams released it on The Andy Williams Christmas Album in December 1963.
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The song is a nostalgic celebration of all the activities we associate with the Christmas season, with a focus on getting together with family and friends. It describes some of the things we enjoy doing at festive gatherings.
The "scary ghost stories" lyrics in the song refer to a tradition that dates back to a Christmas in Victorian times, that has survived largely as a result of adaptations of Charles Dickens' novel, A Christmas Carol, in which the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge is shown possible scenarios of the future by a series of ghosts.
In the days before television, telling ghost stories was something that people would do to pass the time at family gatherings, as well as reminiscing about "the glories of Christmases long, long ago".
Warmth and friendliness
Other pastimes mentioned in the song include visits from friends, hosting parties, general social gaiety, sledging for the children, spending time with loved ones, toasting marshmallows and not caring about the cold weather as we go singing Christmas carols "out in the snow".
It also mentions mistletoe and the tradition of kissing underneath it, with the lyrics, "Hearts will be glowing when loved ones are near."
The narrator enjoys the general feeling of warmth and friendliness around Christmas, with "everyone telling you to be of good cheer". This Christmas favourite truly captures the feeling of goodwill to everyone that abounds during the festive season.
Williams revealed It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year was written as a result of his popular television series, The Andy Williams Show. Wyle was the vocal director and wrote many of the duets that Williams sang with his guests. In 1963, he decided to write a special Christmas song specially for the show and this was the result.
Williams liked the song so much that he sang it every Christmas for more than 30 years. Other artists started performing the song too and over the years, it became a big standard for the festive period.
Today, it's one of the top ten Christmas songs of all time. In 2010, it was voted number four by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in their 25 top holiday songs in history.
It has also been used in many television adverts by major brands at Christmas time, such as Coca-Cola, Nissan Motors and Disneyland Resorts. Johnny Mathis' version of the song was on the soundtrack of the 1996 Christmas film, Jingle All the Way.
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