Christmas carol clarifications


“Baby It’s Cold Outside” has been banned from radio stations across the country for its possibly sexist and inappropriate lyrics. Photo used with permission from NPR.

When December hits, it seems like you only hear one thing on the radio: Christmas songs. Whether you’re listening to a Christmas classic like “Jingle Bells” or a more recent hit such as “Under the Mistletoe”, by Justin Bieber, there is arguably no better way to get into the holiday spirit. While most people think of Christmas songs as joyous, innocent, and fun, the shocking meanings of some of these holiday favorites have been recently brought to light.

One song that has been a major point of controversy in the news recently is “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Yes, that popular song from hit movies like Elf is now banned from some radio stations across the country and in Canada. The controversial lyrics were previously viewed as a flirtatious winter scene, but in light of the recent #MeToo movement, people suspect the song may be about rape.

Some people are saying this is just a conspiracy, but most of the lyrics in the song do point to something more than just flirting. The song is based on a duet between a male and female who is attempting to leave this date with the man, repeatedly saying “I’ve got to go away”.

The controversy doesn’t stop there, though. The female voice then asks,“Say, what’s in this drink?”, leading some to believe the song is promoting date rape culture.

Eventually the woman sings “I ought to say ‘No, no, no, sir’,” yet the man keeps pursuing her. Although maybe the writer of this usually enjoyable Christmas song meant for the carol to be about a man casually flirting with a woman, it also comes across as the man taking advantage of the woman.

Another popular song in the news recently for its underlying inappropriate meaning is “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, as many people are calling it “politically incorrect”.

How could a song about a little reindeer be so problematic you ask? Well, we all know that Rudolph “had a shiny nose” and all the other reindeer bullied him as they “used to laugh and call him names”. The moral of this tale used to be a great way for kids to learn that you shouldn’t judge others based on appearance.

The controversy started at the end of November when the Huffington Post put a video on Twitter explaining why “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is seriously problematic. This holiday classic is actually a “parable on racism and homophobia” one viewer commented on the post, where Santa is an exploitative bigot.

Many people disagree with the supposed message of bullying because of race or gender, saying that the song is really just about accepting the differences of all people. Yet, the song still falls under the category of problematic Christmas songs.

One of the lesser known controversial Christmas songs to hit the news recently is “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”. Even if you’ve never heard the actual song before, it’s pretty obvious from the title that the message of the song isn’t great. Despite being created in the 70’s, the song still plays on the radio today, promoting the message of a poor, old grandmother’s tragic death.

Essentially, the rest of the family barely even cares that the grandma is gone. Many critics of the song say that grandpa even wanted her dead, because he is simply sitting there “watching football; drinking beer and playing cards with cousin Mel” on the day of her funeral. The song also mentions that grandma had been “drinking too much eggnog” and “staggered out the door into the snow” by herself. 

These songs are just a few of the Christmas carols that could have alternative meanings. Even though the Christmas songs we have all annually listened to since we were kids seem like a fun way to enjoy the holiday season, many of the songs we sing could possibly be sexist, racist, or homophobic. So the next time you turn a radio station on, make sure you know the real meaning of the song you’re singing; many of them aren’t what they seem.