I cannot really say I have a favourite Chrismas carol. We had them all at school, from the infants up to high school. In high school it was naturally combined with a visit to the school church, St. Botolphs in Bishopsgate, London. They still have carol services there.

So to do everyone a favour I chose this Christmas Carol. It is the one that brings the amusing memories back of a class of 8 year olds singing “We wishshshshsh you a happy Christmas, driving the teacher crazy with the emphasis on the wish part. Then we arrived at the second verse and were all wondering the meaning of  “So bring us some figgy pudding”. Most of us knew what a Christmas pudding was, but I am sure no-one said “Mum, can we have some more figgy pudding?”, indeed in the German language it could have a somewhat ambiguous meaning.

I noticed on a recording of this carol by Bing Crosby he changed the words in the second verse to “I want some milk and cookies” as even Bing did not want to sing about bringing “figgy pudding”. He probably also did not know what it was.

Of course “Hark the Herald Angels” was also a good one in the school, when we all sang “Hark the Heral dAngels” another demoralising text for the teacher.

I asked Mr. Swiss for his favourite, but he only knows the German carols and in any case he began to sing  something popular. I reminded him that Carols were the ones sang in the church. He did remember “We Three Kinds of Orient Are”, but that was because he had a jazz record  “God Rest you Merry Jazz Men” with various Christmas Carols played by various bands, one of which was with Dexter Gordon – so much for Angloswiss Christmas Carols. I will not be singing this Christmas as no-one will join in.



  1. It’s funny how words change meaning, become archaic, and sometimes plain disappear. I remember my mother singing a songs about a dog. It talked about the dog’s “forelegs” which confused me because I though ALL dogs had four legs and how could he stand on his hind legs if you held his four legs up? So I don’t really mind when bits of old songs get rewritten. Sometimes you need to do that so that younger people are not as baffled as I was when I asked my mom: “How can he stand at all if your hold his four legs up?” That is when I learned the meaning of “forelegs.” It was a while longer before I learned about a fortnight.

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    • My mum and her sisters all had their own words. A dress was always a “frock” and a dessert after dinner was “afters”. I think their vocabulary often came from the days of Charles Dickens. The “figgy pudding” really stuck in my mind, it was probably from the Charles Dickens days of Christmas, when the Christmas Pudding probably had more figs than anything else.


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