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"Deck The Halls" is what might be called a secular Christmas carol, ie it has no particular religious content. The melody is actually Welsh, one of many fine Welsh melodies that have been adapted for English folk songs, like "The Ash Grove
". Having said that, the song has a truly international pedigree; Mozart used the music in a piano/violin duet, and the words are said to be of American origin, from the 19th
The first published version was by the Welsh poet John Ceirog Hughes (1832-87) as Nos Galan - ie New Year's Eve. This poem is totally dissimilar from the song, which was originally a dance. The regular lyrics are believed to have originated with Welsh miners who emigrated to the Appalachians. (thanks, Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2)
Since this song can be performed royalty free to capture the spirit of the season, it shows up in a lot of TV shows and movies. A few examples include The Big Bang Theory, The Office, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Halloween (sung by Bing Crosby), and Emma. The song played a key role in the movie A Christmas Story, where the family is forced to eat their dinner at a Chinese restaurant, where the staff does their best to sing this for them, but can't because their accents make "Fa la la la la" sound like "Fa wa wa wa wa." There was also a 2006 movie called Deck The Halls starring Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick as neighbors who feud over their Christmas displays; Gary Ho-Ho-Hoey did the title song in that one.
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