We need to have a talk, my friends.
The topic of Christmas music can be a surprisingly contentious one for a holiday meant to promote peace and coming together. When is it acceptable to start listening to holiday tunes? What’s the worst Christmas song of all time? “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”—flirty duet or creepy come-on?
I have opinions about these, of course (after Santa arrives at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade; John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)”; baby, this song kinda makes me cringe). But I’m under no illusions that I’ll be able to persuade anyone else from their intractable positions.
There is, however, one thing we can all agree on:
“My Favorite Things” is not a Christmas song.
I do not say this out of animosity toward the occasional Broadway show tune showing up on the all-Christmas-all-the-time station’s playlist. “We Need a Little Christmas” from the musical Mame is a perfectly acceptable selection. I’m also okay with the bittersweet “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” from Meet Me in St. Louis. And if Lin-Manuel Miranda had included a Christmas “cabinet battle” in Hamilton, I would have it on repeat indefinitely, no question.
Nor do I dislike “My Favorite Things” as a song in and of itself. Written by Rodgers and Hammerstein for the musical The Sound of Music in the late 1950s, the music and lyrics do what they set out to do: move you from fear to cheer. In fact, back in Ye Olden Days, when I eagerly awaited the once-a-year airing of The Sound of Music movie on network TV, the scene where Maria uses the song to comfort the von Trapp children was one of, well, my favorite things.
And there’s the rub. In the movie, Maria sings “My Favorite Things” during a warm-weather thunderstorm, with nary a snowflake to be found. And in the original musical, weather does not factor in at all; Maria sings the song in Mother Abbess’s office at the abbey, even before she meets the von Trapps.
But even if you divorce the song from its context, “My Favorite Things” just doesn’t measure up as a holiday standard. Let’s take a closer look at the lyrics:
My Favorite Things – The math speaks for itself.
I always assumed that the inclusion of “My Favorite Things” in the holiday hullaballoo was a relatively new phenomenon. But as I researched for this piece, I learned that it has been included on holiday albums since 1964—a year before the movie version of The Sound of Music was released. So what happened between 1959 and 1964? What caused this song to be associated with Christmas in the minds of so many people?
As with all things, Wikipedia has the answer. Julie Andrews—four years before she appeared as Maria von Trapp—sang “My Favorite Things” on the 1961 Christmas episode of The Gary Moore Show. (YouTube has the performance, and it’s predictably lovely.) I’m not gonna lie: I generally find Dame Julie to be faultless. However, I’m a bit crushed that she might be responsible for this whole mess.
I still have one question, though. Why was this song chosen for the holiday special because it was already somehow affiliated with Christmas? Or was it this performance by Julie that cemented its inclusion in the holiday canon?
Regardless of how it got there, it’s time to retire “My Favorite Things” from Christmas playlists the world over. I might have lost Whamageddon a mere twelve hours after I became aware of its existence, and my pick in the Best Christmas Song Ever bracket might go out in the first round, but banishing “My Favorite Things” from the holiday rotation is the snow-covered hill I’m willing to die on.
Meaghan Porter is a trained tap dancer, a gymnastics and Gilmore Girls enthusiast, and a managing editor at W Publishing Group. She is also wife to Jared and the source of gravity in the world to three-year-old Abby. You can keep up with Meaghan’s past and future posts on Page Chaser’s Instagram or Facebook page.