When I hear Christmas carols I feel like someone is driving a sledgehammer into my brain. Is the world engaged in some kind of collective delusion?

When I hear Christmas carols, I feel like someone is driving a sledgehammer into my brain. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

This Christmas, I chatted to a few of my friends about it, and I found out that there are quite a few of us who don’t like Christmas carols. At best, they’re old-fashioned; at worst, they’re religious propaganda.

I know, I know, Christmas is a religious holiday. But in my part of the world, it’s about consumerism as much as it’s about the birth of Christ.

Most of the people I know use Christmas as an excuse to spend time with their family and to eat too much chocolate. But they don’t have many carols about that.

I’ve known people who aren’t religious at all — or who are Jewish, Muslim or belong to some other non-Christian religion — and who love Christmas carols more than even the most devout Christians.

But for me, they sound like fingernails scratching on a blackboard.

The delusion

It makes me wonder whether the world is engaged in some kind of collective delusion. Perhaps it’s like the Mandela effect, where large numbers of people misremember something. That’s named after a widespread belief amongst people that Nelson Mandela died in the 1980s, when he actually died in 2013.

And so in this case, perhaps the collective delusion — the Mandela effect — is that people misremember Christmas carols as being good. But they’re not. They’re terrible.

The problem is made worse by the fact that carols are often sung by children, and we’re all expected to pretend that they’re good at singing even when they can’t carry a tune. Sometimes, carol singers go from door to door, singing their off-key carols to anyone who’ll listen. And then they expect a reward.

At least at Halloween, the trick or treaters tend to put some effort into their costumes.

This Christmas, there seemed to be even more Christmas carols than normal. Maybe it’s because so many people were trying to dodge Whamageddon or being Noddied, two popular games on social media where people try to avoid hearing Last Christmas by Wham! or Merry Xmas Everybody by Slade.

Given the choice, I’d rather avoid those, too. But at least they’re better than Christmas carols.

Why Christmas carols suck

As you can probably tell, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Christmas carols, and I’ve worked up a list of some of the main reasons why I think they suck. Let’s take a look at just a few of them.

  • They’re overplayed: You can’t go anywhere without hearing Christmas carols on the radio or over speaker systems. I heard them in stores, at sports games, in malls and playing from someone’s phone on a train. They even played them at the gym, which ruined my workout.
  • They start too early: This Christmas, I heard my first Christmas carol halfway through November. Call me crazy, but I don’t think we should be playing Christmas carols before thanksgiving. Although to be fair, I don’t think we should play them at all.
  • They’re too sentimental: Christmas carols are cheesy and predictable, with bland lyrics that feel like they’ve been written by someone who doesn’t live in the real world. They all sound similar, and they’re far too cutesy to enjoy.
  • People always play the same carols: Next year, I’m going to keep a log of every Christmas carol I hear, because I suspect that there are only half a dozen or so that are played on regular rotation. If you only ever heard the same five or six songs, you’d soon get sick of them. So why should we expect any different from Christmas carols?
  • They’re hypocritical: People like to pretend that Christmas carols are holy and bring them closer to God, but all they do is highlight the hypocrisy of Christmas. There’s nothing quite like singing about Jesus while maxing out your credit cards to buy gifts that your friends and family are only going to re-sell on eBay anyway.
  • They stress people out: I don’t get too stressed about Christmas, but this was a common theme amongst my friends. They told me that when they heard Christmas carols, it just made them feel more stressed about having the “perfect” Christmas, if such a thing even exists.
  • They’re all the same genre: As someone who’s proud of listening to a wide variety of music, Christmas carols drive me crazy because they all belong to the same genre. I want to listen to a little bit of everything, not six carols that sound exactly the same.
  • They never match my mood: One of the great things about music is that you can match it to the mood you’re in. The music I listen to on the treadmill at the gym is very different to the music I listen to during a romantic dinner with my partner. The problem with Christmas carols is that they’re so beige and uninspired that they don’t match any mood that I’ve ever experienced.

When you add all this to the fact that people sometimes expect you to sing along, I think I’ve made a pretty compelling case. I’ve lost count of the number of office parties and professional events I’ve been at where there’s been peer pressure for me to pretend to like a Christmas carol when they make me want to cut off my ears and fill the holes with cement.

The solution

This is normally the point in an article at which I’d share a solution, but I’m afraid I don’t really have one. All we can do is to stop playing Christmas carols, especially on radio stations and in public places.

If you want to listen to Christmas carols in the privacy of your own home, that’s up to you. The problem is that when you force them upon other people, you might as well be taking a sledgehammer and driving it into their brains.

It can’t be long until the UN declares playing Christmas carols to be a form of cruel and unusual punishment, and if we were still interrogating terrorists at Guantánamo Bay, I’m sure we’d be playing O Little Town of Bethlehem on repeat.

And the good news is that Christmas is over, if only for another eleven months or so. But with Christmas carols being played earlier and earlier, it can only be a matter of time until we’re listening to Christmas carols all year round.

I just hope that by the time that happens, I’m either deaf or dead. And on that delightful note, that’s me done until I start my next article.

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Clifton Kopp

Welcome to my writings on Ideapod! I'm a bit of a "polymath" in that I like writing about many different things. Often I'm learning from the process of writing. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a comment on one of my articles.

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