By Alyson McAndrews Nanaimo Daily News December 14, 2011
If there's an aspect of Christmas that reflects current social trends, it is probably carols and music. Most people who celebrate the holiday have a list of the songs, old or new, that represent Christmas to them.
For the past 600 years or so, the songs have been a major part of the holiday, and that continues today. In the 1400s, Martin Luther penned many carols, inviting his Reformers to sing and enjoy music at church. Today, even punk bands put out Christmas albums. It's a moneymaking opportunity that is fuelled by our love of music.
Caroling is perhaps the oldest, continuous musical traditions of Christmas.
The first instances of "wassailers" or carolers were recorded also in the 1400s. People moved in large groups from house to house singing a list of 25 traditional carols and receiving some kind of holiday cheer from each house hold. Later, it was used by those in need to provide a service for people in exchange for some food or money.
Today, people continue this tradition, but often in a more contemporary format.
Nanaimo native Allison Crowe will host her fourth annual caroling/singalong on Dec. 22 from 5 to 6 p.m. called Cookies, Cocoa and Carols.
It's an intimate event that usually sees between 30 and 40 people come and join in the singing. The group doesn't move, so Crowe has adapted the usual model of caroling to fit the event. Cookies, Cocoa and Carols is special to Crowe, who thinks something special happens when people sing together.
"It sounds so beautiful and I think it's a way to express something," she says. "It's a way to find joy, and it's an act of community with those around you." Christmas provides a unique time to sing together, something we seem to do less of as a society than we used to. It's a time when most of
the people attending an event like Crowe's know the words to most of the songs.
Crowe brings vegan and non-vegan treats to the show. Admission is a donation, and although the event is held outside, in the Merchant Mews & Fitzwilliam Gate areas of Nanaimo's Old City Quarter, she encourages everyone who wanders by to provide a donation.
Using caroling for charity, rather than to receive charity as in the old days, is a common theme now.
Residents of Nanaimo's south end take the opportunity to bring some cheer to Dufferin Place.
Barbara Densmore noticed four years ago how quiet the home for seniors became on Christmas Day, so community members started singing for residents.
Now, they give out stuffed animals in addition to performing. Last year, Densmore and Bill Robinson dressed up as Mrs.
Claus and Santa and added more residences to the day.
The two now spend their entire Christmas day making rounds.
We're counting down the days until Christmas and giving tips and hints and how to cope, have fun and survive until 2012.
Parcel presentation with Janet Quarnstrom, long-time wrapper at Country Club Centre mall.
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