AP-NORC Poll: Christmas carols favored over Billboard hits
By JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr.
AP Entertainment Writer
Saturday, December 22
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is the highest-charting Billboard Hot 100 holiday hit in 60 years, but Americans still prefer hearing carols such as “Silent Night” and “Jingle Bells,” a new poll shows.
With Christmas next week, 12 percent of Americans named “Silent Night” as their favorite holiday song followed by “Jingle Bells” at 8 percent, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The open-ended question showed that “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a fan favorite among holiday films, followed closely by a mix of recent comedies and classics.
Nine percent of respondents listed the 1946 Frank Capra classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” as their favorite film. Jimmy Stewart plays a conscientious family man who faces a seemingly insurmountable debt and attempts to end his life, but is stopped by a guardian angel on Christmas Eve.
“It’s a story of redemption,” said Michael Germana, 65, who called the film his favorite. The California native is also among the 21 percent of adults 60 and older who choose “Silent Night,” which was first performed 200 years ago.
“It’s a song of inclusion,” Germana said. “There’s no strife.”
Americans under 30 are more likely than those older to name “Jingle Bells” (12 percent) and Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” (7 percent) as their favorite.
Carey’s song only trails the 1958 song “The Chipmunk Song” by David Seville as the highest-charting hit on Billboard. Other popular songs on Billboard charts include Kenny G’s “Auld Lang Syne” and “This One’s for the Children” by New Kids on the Block.
“All I Want for Christmas Is You” was named by 3 percent of adults overall, while “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” which has drawn criticism in the #MeToo era and led some stations to stop playing it, was named by 5 percent.
There were more contemporary choices among respondents when it came to film. Seven percent chose 1983’s “A Christmas Story” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” but most people didn’t specify whether they preferred the 1966 animated television special or the 2000 live-action adaption starring Jim Carrey. A computer animated version, “The Grinch” has earned more than $239 million domestically since its early November release.
Six percent selected the 2003 comedy “Elf” starring Will Ferrell, the Chevy Chase-led “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and “Home Alone,” a 1990 box office hit starring Macaulay Culkin as the burglar-thwarting Kevin McCallister.
Also listed as a favorite by 2 percent of respondents: the 1988 Bruce Willis action film “Die Hard.”
Overall, Seventy movies or Christmas specials and 107 songs were cited as holiday favorites by poll respondents.
The AP-NORC poll of 1,067 adults was conducted Dec. 13-16 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.
Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods, and later interviewed online or by phone.
AP-NORC Center: http://www.apnorc.org/
Mariah Carey’s Christmas classic sets new record on Spotify
By MESFIN FEKADU
AP Music Writer
Wednesday, December 26
NEW YORK (AP) — Mariah Carey’s 24-year-old Christmas classic is so popular it set a new one-day streaming record on Spotify on Christmas Eve.
Chart Data reported that “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” released in 1994, was played 10.8 million times on Spotify on Monday. The song bested the record set by rapper-singer XXXTentacion, who logged 10.4 million streams with “SAD!” a day after his death in June.
Spotify wouldn’t comment on the news when reached by The Associated Press. Carey called the new feat “such an amazing Christmas gift” in an Instagram post on Tuesday.
Every holiday season “All I Want for Christmas Is You” begins to climb the Billboard charts as its popularity resurfaces. This year the song reached its highest peak — No. 6 — on the Billboard Hot 100 chart; it’s currently No. 7 on the chart.
The success has helped Carey’s first Christmas album, 1994’s “Merry Christmas,” spend its fourth week at No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B albums chart.
The current Hot 100 chart features 20 holiday songs:
— No. 7, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You”
— No. 10, Andy Williams’ “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
— No. 11, Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”
— No. 12, Burl Ives’ “A Holly Jolly Christmas”
— No. 13, Bobby Helms’ “Jingle Bell Rock”
— No. 17, Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)”
— No. 27, Wham!’s “Last Christmas”
— No. 28, Gene Autry’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
— No. 32, Dean Martin’s “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow”
— No. 33, The Ronettes’ “Sleigh Ride”
— No. 34, Jose Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad”
— No. 35, Gene Autry’s “Here Comes Santa Claus (Down Santa Claus Lane)”
— No. 41, Perry Como’s “(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays”
— No. 42, Perry Como & The Fontane Sisters’ “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”
— No. 45, John & Yoko/The Plastic Ono Band’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” (with the Harlem Community Choir)
— No. 47, Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime”
— No. 48, Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”
— No. 50, Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
— No. 68, Katy Perry’s “Cozy Little Christmas”
— No. 90, Lauren Daigle’s “The Christmas Song”
How parenthood has changed the way I read ancient stories of Joseph and Mary’s relationship with Jesus
December 12, 2017
Author: Christopher A. Frilingos, Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, Michigan State University
Disclosure statement: Christopher A. Frilingos does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: Michigan State University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
As Christmas approaches, many Christians will reflect on the Nativity, or birth of Jesus. The Christian Bible includes two different stories of the birth of Jesus, found in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. But there are precious few details about the rest of his childhood in the New Testament.
Some Christians today may wonder, what happened next?
The Infancy Gospel of Thomas
I write about this question in my book, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph: Family Trouble in the Infancy Gospels.” The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, a key source for my book, describes the childhood of Jesus. It is “extracanonical,” meaning that it cannot be found in copies of the Bible belonging to the main branches of Christianity.
It is not a source for the historical Jesus. What it reveals instead is the early Christian imagination. It was read widely by ancient Christians, who copied the stories and translated them into a number of different languages: Greek, Latin, Syriac, Arabic, to name a few.
The Infancy Gospel of Thomas includes stories about the child Jesus between the ages of five and 12. The contents of this gospel might trouble many modern-day Christians, who picture Jesus, even in childhood, as a perfect being.
While the child Jesus performs blessings, healing his brother, James, for example, from a snakebite, he also gets into trouble. Jesus curses and hurts other children. He gets a bad reputation. When a playmate named Zeno falls from a roof and dies, his parents accuse Jesus of pushing Zeno from the roof. But Jesus brings the dead boy back to life. The parents of Zeno praise God and the young savior.
Jesus, age 12
If readers are confused by the behavior of the child Jesus in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, they are in the same position as his parents. Mary and Joseph don’t understand him.
The final episode of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas is an echo of the single childhood story about Jesus in the New Testament. In the Gospel of Luke, the holy family nearly splits up. Jesus, 12 years old at the time, goes with his parents to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Afterwards, Mary and Joseph head back home. But not Jesus.
He stays in Jerusalem without permission. Traveling home, Mary and Joseph suddenly realize that Jesus is missing. Three days into the search they find the child in the temple in Jerusalem, teaching the grownups. Mary scolds Jesus for upsetting them,
“Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.”
“Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
Jesus shrugs off Mary’s worry and all but ignores Joseph, speaking instead of his divine father. His words leave Mary and Joseph at a loss as they do not understand what he said to them.
Far from the tree
I suspect that Mary and Joseph’s failure to understand Jesus is the element that will resonate most strongly with modern readers. It reminds me of Andrew Solomon’s powerful book, “Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity,” which describes parents and children who seem to be separated by profound differences.
In one chapter Solomon describes the experiences of parents of deaf children. In another, he portrays the challenges faced by families with children born with Down syndrome. What Solomon uncovers through these case studies is “the profound unknowability of even the most intimate human relationship.”
Yet, as Solomon observes, differences can strengthen rather than weaken bonds. Differences that push us to the limits of understanding can nevertheless teach us how to love.
Solomon’s chapter on Down syndrome hits close to home. I am the father of two children, one who was born with Down syndrome and one who was born without an extra chromosome. On rare days the stars align, and I know exactly what to say or do as a parent. Most of the time I am uncertain. Sometimes, I am deeply confused. Yet, like Andrew Solomon, I think love is built from all of these moments.
Perhaps a similar message can be found in the story of the 12-year-old Jesus. Is he “far from the tree”? Uncertain after the scene in Jerusalem, Mary, Joseph and Jesus return home together. Family is not a clearly defined structure in the story: It isn’t biologically based or reflective of some “norm.” It is instead a choice to stick together, come what may.
This Christmas, stories about the baby Jesus will get most of the attention. But spare a thought for the tween-age Jesus and his confused parents. They don’t always understand him.
They love him anyway.