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Julesanger

In Norway, we have a fairly interesting collection of "julesanger" (Christmas songs). We obviously have a lot of traditional Christian Christmas carols, some which are more or less free translations of English classics, some originally written in Norwegain. These are the kind that talk about one or more of Jesus, Mary, God, Angels and Christmas. You know what I'm talking about, so I won't include an example of these.

Then there are the more borderline cases, such as "Julekveldsvise" ("Christmas Eve song"), by Alf Prøysen:

Nå har vi vaske golvet
og vi har børi ved,
og vi har sett opp fuggelband,
og vi har pynta tre`!
Nå sett vi øss og kvile
og puste på ei stund,
imens je rugger vogga,
så bror din får en blund.


English (all translations today are hastily done by me, without a second thought for silly things like scanning and rythm and so on)

We have scrubbed the floors,
and we have carried firewood,
and we have put up julenek,
and we have decorated the tree!
Now we sit down to rest,
and breathe for a while,
while I rock the cradle,
so your brother can take a nap.


It then goes on to point out the Christmas star, and mentions that the first time the Christmas star shone, a little boy was born, and three wise men found him by letting the star guide them, and so on. The song doesn't actually mention the little boy's name, though, nor the name of the boy's father, which is why I place it in the category "borderline traditional Christian Christmas song".

We also have some which do not actually have a Christian theme at all, but at least refers to Christmas, such as "Musevisa" ("The mouse song"), also by Alf Prøysen:

Når nettene blir lange og kulda setter inn så sier vesle musemor til ungeflokken sin:
Hvis ingen går i fella, men passer seg for den, skal alle sammen snart få feire jul igjen!
Heisan og Hoppsan og fallerallera! Om julekvelden da skal alle sammen være gla
Heisan og Hoppsan og fallerallera! Om julekvelden da skal alle sammen være gla


When the nights grow long and the cold kicks in, little mother mouse tells her kids:
If no one walks into a trap, but looks out for that, everyone can soon celebrate Christmas again!
Hey and hop and falerallera! At Christmas Eve everyone should be happy
Hey and hop and falerallera! At Christmas Eve everyone should be happy


Then there are some songs which could be said to be borderline Christmas themed, in that they don't specifically mention Christmas, but rathere refers to stuff which might be Christmas related, such as "Så går vi rundt om en enebærbusk" ("Thus we walk around a juniper bush"):

Så går vi rundt om en enebærbusk
enebærbusk, enebærbusk,
Så går vi rundt om en enebærbusk
Tidlig en mandags morgen

Så gjør vi så når vi vasker vårt tøy,
vasker vårt tøy, vasker vårt tøy,
Så gjør vi så når vi vasker vårt tøy,
tidlig en tirsdags morgen


Thus we walk around a juniper bush,
juniper bush, juniper bush.
Thus we walk aronud a juniper bush,
early a Monday morning.

Thus do we thus when we wash our clothes,
wash our clothes, wash our clothes.
Thus do we thus when we wash our clothes,
early a Tuesday morning.


And then it goes on about hanging clothes, rolling clothes, ironing clothes, scrubbing the floors and finally, on Sunday, going to church. So it could be just a regular week, or it could be Christmas preparations (at least if Christmas Eve happens to be on a Sunday). So borderline Christmas themed.

Even more borderline, we have those that don't even mention Christmas, but have a winter theme, such as "Bjelleklang" (the Norwegian version of "Jingle bells"). My favourite example is "Reven rasker over isen" ("The fox hurries over the ice"), which just barely gets in by metioning ice:

Og reven rasker over isen,
og reven rasker over isen.
Så får vi lov, så får vi lov,
å synge damenes vise.

Og ser du damene hvor de går,
og ser du damene hvor de går,
og hvor de sitter og hvor de står,
og hvor de svinger seg i valsen.


And the fox hurries over the ice,
and the fox hurries over the ice.
And then we may, and then we may,
sing the ladies' song.

And do you see the ladies how they walk,
and do you see the ladies how they walk,
and how they sit and how they stand,
and how they turn in the dance.


It goes on with gentlemen, and if you're not tired, boys and girls.

Finally, we have those that have absolutely no connection to Christmas, not even a secondary connection. My favourite example:

Jeg gikk meg over sjø og land
der møtte jeg en gammel mann.
Han spurte så, han sagde så,
Hvor hører du vel hjemme?

Jeg hører hjemme i klappeland,
i klappeland, i klappeland,
og alle de som klappe kan,
de hører hjemme i klappeland.


I walked across sea and land
and there I met an old man.
He asked me so, he told me so,
Where do you belong?

I belong in clapping land,
in clapping land, in clapping land,
and everyone who clapping can,
they belong in clapping land.


Repeat ad nauseam by substituting clapping with for example, running, jumping, climbing trees or whatever else you can crowbar into it.

-Tor Nordam

Comments

Camilla,  20.12.10 10:09

In my family, I think, we operate with quite a strict distinction between the type of Christmas songs you play on the radio (such as Bjelleklang) and those you sing around the Christmas tree (like most of the others you mentioned). I think it is a useful distinction.