Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Christmas in July - Jolly Old St. Nicholas

It’s hard to imagine, especially given the mid-90 degree temperatures we have been experiencing on the east coast, but Christmas is exactly five months away.  The tradition of celebrating Christmas in July goes back at least 100 years.  In the northern hemisphere, it’s a happy reminder of cooler temperatures and the holiday season.  In the southern hemisphere, July is typically the coldest month of the year, making it a nice time to think of snow and Santa Claus.  Christmas in July also has given stores an excuse to offer sales in the middle of summer.  It’s also a good reason for people to give gifts and spread the joy of Christmas throughout the year.

The phrase itself was further engrained in our minds by the 1940 Preston Sturges film “Christmas in July,” which featured Dick Powell and Ellen Drew.  Interestingly, it was released in October of that year, not July.  The film tells the story of a young couple who suddenly become rich after the husband thinks he has won a prize of $25,000 (adjusting for inflation, that is over $400,000 in today’s economy).

I am celebrating Christmas in July this year by resuming work on my Christmas song arrangements for wind, brass, and string instruments.  Today I completed the sheet music for Jolly Old St. Nicholas.  The wind and brass music for Jolly Old St. Nicholas is in the key of concert B flat, so all band instruments can play it together.  The string version of Jolly Old St. Nicholas is in the key of C.  There are also versions of the carol in seven different keys, so anyone can find an arrangement that matches their range or comfort zone.  Merry Christmas in July!

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