The Story Behind
Bostonian James Pierpont wrote “Jingle Bells” in the 1850s. It alluded to the annual sleigh races on the mile-long stretch between the squares in Medford and Malden, towns near Boston. The song was published in 1857. Some music historians say that Pierpont originally wrote it as a Thanksgiving song for a children’s church program. Others felt that “Jingle Bells” was quite racy for its time, noting its references to speed racing and courting verses, such as “go it while you’re young.” These made it unacceptable for church use. Pierpont, the son of a minister, was considered something of a rogue. He died in 1893 before his song became a hit. In 1902, the Hayden Quartet, a barbershop group, recorded it and helped spread its popularity.