14. The Original Christmas Carols were not Christian hymns; they were pagan seasonal songs to drive away Evil.
Today we think of carols as songs of spiritual joy celebrating Christ’s birth, sung by groups of carol singers or church choirs. However, the original carols had nothing to do with the birth of Christ. Indeed, Christmas hymns weren’t part of Christmas church services until the thirteenth century and many of the familiar carols sung today were written in the nineteenth century to revive the caroling tradition. For although in the middle ages groups of people sang carols while going from door to door, much as they did until recently, these medieval songs were a country tradition and firmly pagan in origin.
The origins of carols lie firmly in agricultural superstition. Performed during the summer and at harvest time as well as midwinter, country people sang them as they went about the village, offering good wishes and blessings on individual households in return for food and drink. Often at midwinter, the carolers provided a wassail bowl full of ale in addition to their songs and blessings. Alternatively, carolers sang as they passed through the fields. Whether they sang at households or two the crops, the intention was the same: to drive away evil spirits with their singing.