Whatever your personal opinion about this season is, the fact is that, unless you're some kind of a hermit with an aversion to shopping malls and public spaces, around this time of year there is no escaping those mirthful songs filled with the season's cheer. Yes, I am talking about Christmas carols.
However, as cheerful and sweet as Christmas carols often are on the surface, there are some of them that leave key questions unanswered and thus, unfortunately, carry some unfortunate implications. Here I inten to present the hall of shame of Christmas carols whose intended messages may be overshadowed when one looks below the surface.
Rudolf the Red-nosed ReindeerIntended Message: Everyone is different and there's nothing wrong with that. Unfortunate Implication: People who are different can only gain acceptance if their differences make themselves useful to society at large. It's a classic ugly duckling story, only in this case the duckling is a reindeer and instead of growing up to be a beautiful swan and thus demonstrating that they always had the potential for beauty in them all along, the main character has a freakish glowing red nose that allows him to become the world's most beloved reindeer, overshadowing the previously more well-known Dancer and Vixen and Blitzen and Prancer.
While the story is pretty much one of Rudolf becoming loved by all the other reindeer in spite of his physical deformity, it is only because his aberration was one that could be turned into profit by Santa Claus. Had Rudolf been born with something less useful like three antlers he would've remained forever unloved, never being able to make a name for himself outside of a circus sideshow.
So, yeah, it's less of an ugly duckling story and more like every Marvel superhero story ever, with the deformed freak only becoming popular because their freakish nature can be turned towards the common good by society at large.
Santa Claus is Coming to Town Intended Message: Christmas is a time for being a good kid, so be good for goodness' sake. Unfortunate Implication: An old hermit has access to an intelligence network through which he is constantly spying on all the children of the world.
If there is one character who best represents Christmas, it's definitely good old Saint Nick, a.k.a. Santa Claus, Father Christmas or Kris Kringle. Santa is a jolly old man with a ruddy complexion and a lot of cheer in his somewhat obese body who loves all the children of the world. To the extent that he keeps constant tabs on them all the time.
There is very little in this song to suggest Santa Claus's famously jolly nature. Instead the song seems to be a cautionary tale to young children to instruct them to be constantly on their toes, because a wrathful elemental spirit of Christmas is watching their each and every move, always judging and always knowing when you sleep.
Come to think of it, the character of Santa Claus, by his supposed powers, seems less like a jolly old gift-giver and more like an eldritch monstrosity from beyond time and space who somehow possesses selective omniscience when it comes to children's behaviour. And that's horrible.
Carol of the Bells Intended Message: Christmas is here, let's be happy! Unfortunate Implication: The bells, oh, the bells! They never stop!
Speaking of eldritch horrors drawn from the minds of madmen, the yuletide classic Carol of the Bells (also known as the Ukrainian carol) is not creepy by virtue of its lyrical content, but simply due to the dissonance between the lyrics and the melody.
While most definitely uplifting, the song's melody is somehow... wrong. It's not your traditional holiday fare with sleighbells and boughs of holly. It's akin to a chant sung by a doomsday cult trying to bring upon the apocalypse with a dread incantation.
Ding dong, ding dong, that is their song. The bells will never stop. They will always be there. Ding dong, ding dong.
Hei Tonttu-Ukot Intended Message: A bunch of little elf dudes are having a laugh and jumping around. Unfortunate Implication: Life sucks and then you die. A list of creepy Christmas carols wouldn't be complete without this Finnish classic, a song that based on all evidence seems to suffer from bipolar disorder. What starts as a cheerful song goes on to basically state, at the end of each verse, that life is short and what little there is sucks mostly.
Admittedly, at least the song is honest about it and doesn't try to hide its message, but it's still confusing to hear a song go from "YAY!" to "I wish I was dead" without so much as a warning in the lyrics.
However, as creepy Christmas songs go, this list really underscores the fact that even a message like "Life is short and it sucks" is positively jolly given its company.
Jollei Jouluna tule lunta Intended Message: Not even a lack of snow can stop Santa from coming. Unfortunate Implication: Technology is advancing constantly, making an increasing number of jobs obsolete. Another Finnish Christmas song, Jollei Jouluna tule lunta presents the hypothetical situation of there being no snow on Christmas. The song's protagonist (antagonist? anti-Christ?) Ville, the little boy next door, comes up with the perfect solution: in the event of there being no snow on Christmas, instead of having to rely on his magical reindeer, Santa could use a helicopter.
What seems like a sweet little song on the surface is instead a portent of a future where reindeer have become obsolete since changes in the climate have conspired to make it not snow on Christmas. This song is every capitalist's wet dream: the costly, magical reindeer transportation is replaced with a more modern and cost-efficient form of transportation, one that doesn't require feeding all year round.
The very same capitalists are at the moment in the middle of talks with Santa about implementing a reindeer-based fuel in order to make the best use of Santa's now obsolete reindeer, except for Rudolf, who is sold to an American government program researching the possibilities of weaponizing mutant animals for use in the War on Terror.
The author, Patrik Renholm, isn't exactly anti-Christmas, but he does have some Scrooge-like qualities.