This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

Christmas songs explained - Jingle Bells

Christmas is for children, and so are Christmas songs, and *Jingle Bells* is a big favorite for children of all ages. Like most kids, I only understood the words *jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way!* The rest of it, well, didn't make much sense. This is another indication of how the English language changes, and words that were once common, go out of style.

Dashing through the snow!
In a one-horse open sleigh!

OK, now I'm not the youngest person in the world, but even when I was a kid, there weren't any sleighs dashing around through the snow with any number of horses. But before the use of automobiles, sleighs were common, and they were described by the number of horses that pulled them, and whether they had a top or not. Open sleighs didn't have a top, of course.

O'er the fields we go
Laughing all the way.

O'er is just an old-fashioned way that poets and lyricists used the word *over* when they were trying to do it with just one syllable. It was consider artistic, not cheating.

Bells on bobtail ring
Making spirits bright.

A horse that has had its tail shortened is a bobtail. You know, when I was a kid, this really bugged me, and the grownups didn't know. Most still don't. In the 1920s, girls who cut their hair short called it *bobbing their hair*, a slightly silly reference to shortened horse tails. The bells, which is the whole point of the song really, were the horse bells that the horses wore so that people could keep an eye (or an ear) on them.

What fun it is to laugh and sing
A sleighing song tonight!
Jingle bells,

Jingle bells,
Jingle all the way,
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh

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