It’s that time of year again. The cold weather has set in, the holidays are just around the corner, and you’re starting to feel that urge to celebrate. And what better way to celebrate than with some good ol’ fashioned holiday tunes?
This list compiles the 50 best traditional Christmas songs in history, from “Jingle Bells” to “I Saw Three Ships.” From carols to classics, to contemporary tunes, these are some of the most well-known and best-loved songs in history.
So, Sit back, relax, and enjoy yourself with any friends or family members who happen to be around. Happy holidays!
List of 50 Best Traditional Christmas Songs Ever
1. The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole
The Christmas song that started it all, “The Christmas Song” was written by Bob Wells and Mel Torme in 1944. Later a popular recording of the song was first made by Nat King Cole a year later and has been a staple ever since. It is now one of the best-selling singles of all time.
2. White Christmas – Bing Crosby
No Christmas would be complete without mentioning Bing Crosby’s rendition of “White Christmas.” Written in 1942 by Irving Berlin, the song was released in October of 1947 and stayed on top of the charts for 11 weeks. The recording is currently listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling single of all time with over 50 million copies sold worldwide.
3. Sleigh Ride – Leroy Anderson
Written in 1948 by Leroy Anderson, the piece captures the essence of Christmas with its festive melody and imagery. The song has every element of a perfect Christmas song: bells, sleighs, snow, and Santa. It is also often considered the most popular Christmas instrumental ever recorded.
4. Jingle Bells – Bing Crosby & Andrews Sisters
Another traditional Christmas song, and certainly one of the most (in)famous tunes in history is “Jingle Bells.” It was originally written as a Thanksgiving song by James Pierpont but was revised to fit the holiday season better. Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters first recorded it in 1945, and it quickly became an instant classic.
5. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Judy Garland
How can this song not make anyone feel merry? It’s a classic that never gets old. Judy Garland was one of the best entertainers in history, and she nails it here with her beautiful voice and lyrics. This one will have you singing along every single time!
6. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow – Vaughn Monroe
This song is all about snow, and it’s the perfect backdrop for some festive fun! The upbeat tempo pairs well with the lyrics of wanting to stay warm by a fire. It’s almost like you can feel that snow outside as you listen to this tune.
7. The Star Carol – Tennessee Ernie Ford
Tennessee Ernie Ford is known for his deep and booming voice, and it’s well suited to this holiday tune. It’s definitely a classic that we can never get enough of! You might not recognize the title right away, but after one listen you won’t be able to help but sing along as you know it all along.
8. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Peggy Lee
This is another song that’s perfect for the whole family. It has a great beat to it, and you can really feel the lyrics in your heart when you hear them. Peggy Lee has an incredible voice, and she stands out among all of the other renditions of this classic holiday jingle!
9. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – Jimmy Boyd
This holiday classic is all about Santa! It’s a fun song that tells the story of a little boy who sees his mom kissing jolly ole Saint Nick under the mistletoe. For those who grew up in the 50s or 60s, you might recognize this as a popular song from your childhood!
10. The Little Drummer Boy – Harry Simeone Chorale
There are so many versions of this song, but the Harry Simeone version is one of our favorites. The soft drums paired with the vocals leave you feeling peaceful inside as you listen to Christmas music for the first time in months! And it’s also a great tune for children because it’s so simple.
11. Blue Christmas – Ernest Tubb
If you’re looking for a sad Christmas song that tells a story, this is the one for you. The lyrics tell of how it doesn’t feel like Christmas without your loved one by your side. And since we all miss our loved ones who are no longer with us during the holidays, this is the perfect song to honor them.
12. I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Bing Crosby
Another Crosby tune and this one is about longing for home during the holidays. You can’t help but feel touched by the beautiful lyrics paired with Crosby’s soothing voice.
13. Frosty the Snowman – Gene Autry
This is a fun song that’s all about Frosty the Snowman! A group of kids builds him in a magical way, and he ends up coming to life. The lyrics are super playful, and you can’t help but listen to them over and over again.
14. Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt
This cheeky little song is all about shopping for gifts with Santa! Eartha Kitt’s voice fits the lyrics perfectly, and it will have you in stitches. Even though it’s a Christmas song, you might find yourself listening to it all year long just because of the fun vibe.
15. Run, Rudolph, Run – Chuck Berry
Ready for another upbeat tune? This song is perfect for racing around while getting ready for Christmas dinner. Chuck Berry’s voice is perfect for this fun little song, and it’ll have you tapping your feet to the beat. And hearing about Rudolph running away might make some of us feel better about how many times we run away from doing our chores!
16. Jingle Bells – Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald’s jazzy rendition of this song is incredible. She’s able to deliver the lyrics with such power and beauty that it will take your breath away. You might not think that Christmas songs can be this calming, but you’ll definitely feel more relaxed after listening!
17. Christmas, Baby Please Come Home – Darlene Love
It’s always the right time to visit your family, which is what this song is all about. There are so many great lyrics in this tune that you might find yourself reading along as it plays! It’s also a fun jam for those who are missing their loved ones during the holiday season.
18. A Holly Jolly Christmas – Burl Ives
Though this song is a little over-the-top in terms of holiday spirit, it’s still a great tune to get you into the Christmas mood. The lyrics are awesome with a nice mix of comical and traditional Christmas lyrics, and Burl Ives has an awesome voice that will make you wish he could sing you to sleep every
Nothing says Christmas quite like a Navidad! It’s a fun way to add in some Spanish flair to your holiday song playlist. Its upbeat vibe is perfect for adding some energy to the party, and you might find yourself singing along to the lyrics in no time.
20. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – John Lenon & Yoko Ono
If you’re into a more serious tone, this is the song for you. It’s all about peace during the holidays and celebrating the New Year. When it was first released, some people were very angry about its lyrics and claimed it was propaganda, but we think it’s a beautiful song.
21. Christmas Must Be Tonight – The Band
This song by The Band is a truly special one. It’s all about preparing for the holiday season and getting everything ready to celebrate Christmas with your loved ones. The lyrics are so touching, that you can really feel the emotions in the song because of how well it was performed.
22. Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses
This song is quirky and fun all at the same time. It’s about wrapping presents last-minute on Christmas Eve, which is something that probably relates to all of us! The lyrics are super playful, and you might find yourself singing along as it plays on repeat.
23. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing – Julie Andrew
Julie Andrews’ graceful rendition of this song is so beautiful. It’s all about celebrating the birth of Jesus, and her lyrics will have you swaying to the beat.
24. In the Bleak Mid-Winter – Gustav Holst version
Based on the poem by Christina Rossetti, this song is all about the beautiful harshness of winter! It’s a little on the serious side for most songs, but it’s still lovely. The lyrics are epic and make you understand what winter really means to those who live in snowy places.
25. In the Bleak Mid-Winter – Harold Darke version
Nothing says ‘Christmas’ like this song! It’s all about anticipation, which is exactly how Christmas should make you feel. The lyrics are wonderful, and the music is enchanting. Whether you play this song at your next Christmas party or save it for later when everything has quieted down, you’ll love having this song in your repertoire.
26. Coventry Carol
This song has roots in Christianity, but it’s also known to be the lullaby that Mary sang to baby Jesus in many stories. It’s all about the ‘beasts who spoke with men,’ which makes us think of Santa and Rudolph!
27. Once in Royal David’s City
This song is all about the beauty of David’s city and how it has ‘never seen corruption.’ It also makes mention of Jesus, which is what Christmas time is really all about! It contains many beautiful lyrics that are easy to remember, making this a lovely song for everyone to sing together.
28. Mary’s Boy Child – Harry Belafonte
This is one of the most popular Christmas songs ever recorded! It’s all about Mary and how her boy child will ‘shout salvation to all mankind.’ The tune is very infectious, and you might find yourself humming it throughout the rest of your day after listening for the first time.
29. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear – Norah Jones
What’s better than Norah Jones singing a classic? This tune is all about how this time of year the ‘angels’ are back to remind us that ‘love was born on Christmas day.’ We love how gentle it sounds, and you might even dance along if you have enough drinks in your system!
30. I Wonder as I Wander – Harry Connick Jr.
This Christian folk hymn is full of love and wonder for the world. It’s all about how wandering is good and kind, and it makes us think of Santa’s list! It’s a little different from your traditional ‘Christmasy’ song, but we love the way that Harry Connick Jr sings it.
31. Away in a Manger – Sarah McLachlan
Sarah McLachlan covered this traditional Christian song and gave it a whole new feel! The original is known for its beautiful simplicity, but we like how Sarah made it more orchestral. We think you’ll enjoy listening to both versions of this gorgeous tune.
32. The First Noel
This is one of the oldest Christmas songs ever written and it still stands the test of time! It’s all about Mary and Joseph, and how an angel tells them that they’re going to have a baby. We like how the tune is very steady and consistent, and we think you will too!
33. I Saw Three Ships – Sting
This song dates back to the 17th century, and it’s all about how three ships are coming into the port of London. The lyrics are mysterious, but they have a way of making you think deeply about Christmas time. It’s one of our favorites, so we hope you’ll enjoy it too!
34. O Little Town of Bethlehem – Nat King Cole
“O Little Town of Bethlehem” is one of those carols that is instantly recognizable after only a few notes. It was originally written in 1868 by Phillips Brooks, though it didn’t become popular until the 1900s. It’s known for being incredibly heartfelt and beautiful, which Nat King Cole’s voice really brings out in this version. Whether you listen to it by yourself or play it at a Christmas party, you can be sure that everyone will enjoy it!
35. Deck the Halls
If you want some fun jam music to go with your Christmas tunes, then look no further than “Deck the Halls”! This carol has been around since 1869 and it’s still played at Christmas parties everywhere. The melody is very bouncy and light, while the lyrics are all about why we should decorate for Christmas!
36. Silent Night
This is a song about a calm and bright silent night. It can be sung as a traditional carol, or you could even sing it as a lullaby to your little ones before bedtime. It’s all about making sure that Jesus is calm and happy, and that the night is as still as possible.
37. Joy To the World
A traditional Christmas song, “Joy To the World” is all about Jesus and how wonderful he is. The lyrics go through all of his important characteristics and tell us why we should rejoice. It’s a popular tune at Christmas, and there are even some great variations that you might want to check out as well.
38. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Much like “Joy To the World”, this traditional carol is all about Jesus. It’s another traditional carol, but it has a much faster tempo than “Joy To The World,” making it perfect for singing to the little ones!
39. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
It is one of the oldest traditional Christmas songs, so if you’re looking for something traditional but not traditional enough to be sung in church, then this is the song for you! It’s all about repenting our sins and celebrating the birth of God’s son. The lyrics are beautiful and very spiritual.
40. We Need A Little Christmas – Percy Faith Orchestra
This fun tune is all about needing a little Christmas cheer! The lyrics are light-hearted and upbeat, and it’s the perfect song to sing along to. The melody will get stuck in your head after just one listen, so you might want to brush up on your harmonies before spending time with family during the holidays.
41. Happy Holiday – Jackie Gleason
Another holiday favorite, this song has all the feels. There’s no better way to say “happy holidays” than with an upbeat tune like this one! The lyrics are fun and let you know that there will still be snow during Christmas no matter where you are. It’s definitely one of our favorites, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
42. The Twelve Days of Christmas – Ray Conniff
This jolly song tells the tale of what many people do during the twelve days of Christmas. You’ll be surprised by how much you enjoy the lyrics when you listen to them, and it’s a great tune to sing along with. We can guarantee that kids will love singing about what happens during each of the twelve days!
43. Winter Wonderland – Johnny Mathis
Another song about what happens during the winter, this tune has a pretty melody. The lyrics are perfect for taking in nature’s beauty at Christmastime, which will really sink in after hearing the song. Johnny Mathis has a beautiful voice that fits perfectly with these lovely lyrics, and it’ll have you feeling relaxed in no time.