Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Origin of "Deck The Halls"

Note to my readers: Because I suffered from insomnia last night, you too must suffer, by reading what I came up with during those waking hours. (Insert maniacal laughter here.) For those who ask me, "How do you sleep at night?", I offer this in response.

What many people do not realize is that the song was never intended to be a celebration of Christmas. Instead, it was a sort of native folk song that satirized the popular news of the day. The lyrics would change from week to week, to fit whatever tabloid-worthy headline was most likely to cause glee in the lower classes of folks who kept the tradition alive. The lyrics with the greatest staying power obviously influenced the song as we know it, but few are still around who know those words by heart.

The ancient Yuletide troll named Carl,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la,
Sat beneath his bridge and snarled,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la,
This Season, I would be more jolly,
Fa-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la,
If I hauled off and decked Holly!
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!

Holly, in this song, was popular fashion designer Holly Dawn-Winnauer. Ms Dawn-Winnauer garnered flack from the Religious Right of the day by designing garments geared directly to the homosexual community. She sold these clothes in a little boutique called "Dawn-Winnauer Gay Apparel."

The unfortunately-named Carl Troll did not live under a bridge at all. Instead, he came from a blue-blood family and owned a fine estate in Yuletide, NY. The Trolls were well-known for their Puritanical leanings, and Carl used his influence to try to shut down Holly's business.

As revenge, Ms Dawn-Winnauer and a few friends sneaked out to the Troll estate and released a quantity of wild birds to foul his reflecting pools and destroy his prize pear orchard! When Troll awoke the next morning, he found geese and swans in his reflecting pools and various other birds in his orchard. Especially grievous in their damage were five ring-necked pheasants whose appetites seemed to know no bounds!
This story created such merriment that it found its way into popular song. Written from Carl Troll's perspective, the song humorously lists and counts the -ahem- fowl pests.

Seven days before Christmas,
That trollop gave to me:
Seven swans a'swimming,
Six geese a'lazing,*
Five gluttonous Rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtledoves,
And a partridge in my pear trees!
(*Yes, "a'lazing." Meaning to glide languidly across the surface of the water.)

Not surprisingly, Troll sued Ms Dawn-Winnauer for willful destruction of his property. Her attorney was a man named Yul Brenner Forrest,* a homosexual of such flagrantly stereotypical behavior that his detractors often said "flaming" was not nearly strong enough an adjective. This finds its way into the next verse of "Deck the Halls" as "See the blazing Yul B. Forrest."

(*This name is almost certainly an assumed one. Some historians believe that Forrest changed his name in order to escape his past, and that his birth name was "Franz Theodor deSneaumond." Satirists poked fun at this change, suggesting that he changed his name to avoid paying a traffic fine. The song began, "Franz T. deSneaumond was a jolly happy soul...")

--excerpted from Do you Hear What I Hear? The Stories
Behind Our Beloved Christmas Carols, by Allen S. Brain
Since January 1st had my 200th posting, ICFAB historians and postal workers with nothing better to do today, might be interested to know that this was my 100th post.


Diesel said...

You've put entirely too much thought into this.

Allen said...

Sadly, I didn't put much thought into this at all. My mind wouldn't let me sleep until I'd gotten the gist of it on paper.

Annoying muses, with their bagpipes and their glockenspiels and their polka records played at too high a speed!