5 Most Famous Christmas Songs from Across Europe

If you don’t like Christmas music, you’re probably having a rough time at the moment.

It feels like, during December, you can’t switch the radio on without hearing “Last Christmas” or “All I Want For Christmas” – to the point where even the most Christmassy of Christmassy folk find themselves getting a little fed up.

Don’t get us wrong, the songs are great. But hearing them on repeat every December can easily grow monotonous, especially since there are so many other great Christmas songs to choose from.

In 2023, the radio is saturated with Americanised Christmas sentiments, but we think it’s time for the European greats to take centre stage once again. Here are 5 of the most famous Christmas songs from across Europe, and why they should be topping your Christmas playlist this year.

Now it is Christmas Again – Denmark, Early 17th Century

For the most part, Christmas Day in Denmark remains the same for every household. The family gets up, opens presents, prepares Christmas lunch, eats Christmas lunch, and then chases each other around the Christmas tree while singing “Nu ar det jul igen” – which stands for “Now It Is Christmas Again”. While it might seem a little strange to foreigners, this has been a tradition for hundreds of years, as culturally significant as the Queen’s New Year Speech or knocking sweets out of a barrel at Fastelavn.

Silent Night – Germany, 1818

Germany is one of the most exciting Christmas destinations for travellers, as it is steeped in tradition and Christmas vibes. It’s also known as the birthplace of one of the most famous Christmas songs, not just in Europe, but around the world. Composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber, “Silent Night” was declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2011, and still to this day, it is famous as the song sung by those involved in the Christmas Truce of 1914.

Feliz Navidad – Spain, 1970

Although it was composed relatively recently – at least compared to songs like “Silent Night” and “Now it is Christmas Again” – “Feliz Navidad” has quickly become one of the most famous Christmas songs in Spain, and has even managed to crack the Billboard Hot 100. While this can be attributed to the growing strength of Latin music in the US music industry, it can’t be denied that the song is genuinely catchy and heart-warming. For that reason alone, it deserves to be on everyone’s Christmas playlist this year.

Joy To The World – England, 1719

Written by English minister, Isaac Watts, “Joy to the World” found its success when it was arranged alongside American composer Lowell Mason’s music. It is loud, joyful, and over the last few hundred years, has become synonymous with the time of Christmas. Funnily enough, however, Isaac Watts was a bit of a black sheep during his life.”Joy to the World” might seem relatively tame now, but in the 1700s, Watts was known as a disruptor of the status quo, with a contemporary music style that was completely outside of the norm. Although there is no connection with the Christmas story in the lyrics, it became a Christmas favourite after Lowell Mason got his hands on it – a prime example of how joining forces with our friends across the pond can create wonders!

Fairytale of New York – Ireland, 1987

Okay, okay, so you’re probably listening to this one every Christmas anyway, but we couldn’t fail to mention it in a list of the most famous European Christmas songs! Written by the Celtic punk band, the Pogues, “Fairytale of New York” was heavily influenced by Irish history, nationalism, and Irish life, culminating in a dreamy song that bursts with both heartbreak and positivity.  It is now famous around the world, but its origins begin with this ambitious Irish band, alongside English singer Kirsty Anna MacColl. A true classic!

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