How Music Intertwines with Holiday Traditions

MHS students share their favorite holiday classics and the cheerful memories they associate with them.


Photo Courtesy of Fatimah Khan

A collection of holiday classics meant to make the season brighter.

Juliet Zucker, A&L Page Director

With the holidays just around the corner, or for those who have already celebrated them, music is a big part of the season for all. While a favorite like Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is played year after year, the tune might not be meaningful for everyone. For example, a song like “I Have a Little Dreidel” by Samuel S. Grossman is really only well known for those who celebrate Hunnukah, and even so, some might not even know it. This season, students share exactly what holiday music means to them beyond the nationwide sensations.
The holiday season is beloved by all, but none more than by Elle Krywosa (‘22). For Krywosa, holiday music is about “a feeling of togetherness and warmth that you don’t get any other time of year.” Her holiday playlist mostly consists of “everything Burl Ives,” a name mainly associated with the Christmas season and most notably known for voicing Sam the Snowman in the 1964 special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” His music reminds Krywosa of her “childhood Christmases” and “being with family.” She believes holiday music is so popular because it’s a way to “get people excited” for the season.
Not everyone actively listens to music, but some tunes in particular are associated with movies or personal connections. Alexa Donovan’s (‘22) favorite holiday song is “Carol of the Bells” because “it is always played during gatherings on my dad’s sides.” Her family would watch Home Alone every year, and the choir in the movie sings that song. During the family meal, it would be played over the MTV music channel, making it a “really nostalgic” memory associated with the hit. Donovan eloquently described what holiday music means to her, stating “it’s ‘happy winter’ – the time before the snow becomes dirty and before the cold becomes miserable.” As someone who celebrates Hanukkah and Christmas, she finds it “disappointing” that there isn’t as much popular Hanukkah music, meaning she has to “deliberately search to listen to it.” Christmas music, however, she can associate with “holiday cheer, happiness, and family time.”
Associating holiday music with family is a common thread, as Ava Samson (‘22) feels the same way. The seasonal music reminds her of “ decorating [the] house for Christmas and Hanukkah.” As Samson also celebrates both holidays, she has noticed that it has “opened [her] up to a lot” of different styles of music. Some of her favorites include “Blue Christmas” by Elvis Presley and the famous “Winter Wonderland” by Michael Bublé. Samson notes that the “instrumentals in the music are very magical,” highlighting that the “chimes and choral singing are just beautiful.” Holiday music is something she looks forward to, as she adds that “the excitement from it never really gets old.”
Whether one celebrates Hanukkah, Christmas, both, or neither, holiday music seems universally loved and listened to by all. When associated with a specific memory or feeling, particular tunes hold more meaning than just listening to them on a loop. This season, holiday music will symbolize traditions and the making of new ones for those interested in joining in on the festivities.