Few carols capture a winter wonderland more jubilantly than "Jingle Bells." The words and music were written 150 years ago by James Pierpont, a native of Massachusetts (and maternal uncle of financier J. P. Morgan) who took a post as musical director for a Unitarian congregation in Savannah, Georgia.
In 1850, Pierpont composed his cheery hymn to the bracing New England winters of his boyhood for the Sunday school choir to sing at Thanksgiving. "One Horse Open Sleigh," as the song was then titled, was so well received that the children sang it again at Christmastime. A few years later, in 1857, Pierpont published his stanzas under the title "Jingle Bells, or The One Horse Open Sleigh," and the song has been associated with Yuletide ever since.
The invitation to join a happy chorus of people, as they ride through fields blanketed with snow, has been translated into many languages and has inspired a slew of classic recordings and modern spin-offs, all of which pay fond tribute to what was once the familiar sound of the bells on a sleigh-horse harness. Only "Jingle Bells" will do when it is time for making spirits bright just about anywhere in North America during the month of December. This holiday, add the silvery peal of a bell -- or better yet, a bunch of bells -- to your decorations and gifts. A little jingle here or there, as you go about your day, can't help but make you stop, smile, and savor a magical time of year before it goes dashing past.
Above, each time you open the front door to greet guests, the spirit of the bobtail bay rings forth from bells bedecking a pair of satin ribbons, which are lined with interfacing for sturdier bows.