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There are 96 “la”s in “Deck the Halls.”

Nothing quite gets us in the holiday spirit like singing “la” on repeat. As it turns out, one of the most memorable Christmas refrains comes from a tune originally associated with New Year’s. “Deck the Halls” was adapted from “Nos Galan,” a Welsh carol published in 1794 and traditionally sung on New Year’s Eve. The routine dropping of the third verse—which includes the lyric “fast away the old year passes”—transformed the carol into a Christmastime favorite. “I would say the rule is that people remember, at most, one verse [of a holiday song],” says New York University music department chair Michael Beckerman. “It’s also true that we drop the introductions that precede the choruses. How many people remember that the opening lyric to ‘White Christmas’ is set in Beverly Hills?” Snow on Rodeo Drive? With or without the “Fa la la”s, we’d love to see that holiday flick. 

 

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