Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2006 • Groups from Westwood carry on the Christmas tradition of caroling

Christmas carols are sung during holiday performances, family gatherings in homes and door-to-door. Caroling is one of the oldest Christmas traditions.

In keeping with this tradition, several Brownie and Junior Girl Scout troops from Westwood and Chester, along with a few Cub Scouts, gathered at the Westwood Senior Apartments Sunday afternoon, Dec. 10, to sing songs and share goodies and handmade ornaments with the residents.

Teens from Calvary Chapel Westwood Making a Difference Ministries Youth Group traveled to Chester on Wednesday, Dec. 13, to sing carols and read the story of the birth of Jesus from the Bible to residents at Wildwood Senior Center.

Singing carols is a traditional way to spread Christmas joy. It is reported that centuries ago carolers would gather at nativity scenes created at Christian churches throughout Europe.

Eventually they began to walk through the streets singing carols so that the festive music could be heard by those who could not come to the churches.

The term carol originated from a French custom common in medieval times when singers would form a circle dancing to a song. The French word carol means a song that accompanies a dance.

While neither the Girl Scouts nor members of the youth group danced as they sang, they did spread Christmas cheer. Many of the Girl Scouts wore elf hats or reindeer antlers as they sang long-time favorites such as “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.”

Reindeer antlers were the head ornament of choice for the teens in M.A.D. Ministries as well. After singing several carols about the birth of Jesus the group took their songbooks to the audience asking them to join in the caroling.

One of many songs requested was “White Christmas” written by Irving Berlin. It is reported to be the best-selling Christmas song of all time with about 350 million recordings sold.

Also requested was the second most popular carol, which is “Silent Night,” written in 1818 by Joseph Mohr, an Austrian priest, and first sung by a choir to guitar music.