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Jingle Bells. You hear it everywhere during the Christmas season. Kids sing it, adults sing it, dogs even sing it. Turn on a radio station close to Christmas and there’s a good chance some famous and normally respectable pop singer is belting out the lines.

Yessir it’s Christmas because Jingle Bells is being played.

Yet, in truth, the song Jingle Bells has absolutely NOTHING to do with Christmas, with the holidays, with presents or Santa Clause or any of that stuff. In fact the song is drinking song, written in a bar and about boozing and gambling.

The song was composed in 1850 in the Simpson Tavern in the town of Medford Massachusetts. The composer, James Lord Pierpont, was also less than an upstanding citizen. Apparently he was a boozer who abandoned his wife and kids. In fact when his wife died he didn’t even show up for the funeral and promptly remarried.

So what is the song really about? Well in Medford, Mass one of the most popular past times during the winter season was drag racing your horse-drawn sleigh up and down Salem Street. Gambling on these races was also pretty popular. As was drinking while racing or watching the races.

So there you go, one of the most familiar of Christmas songs has nothing to do with Christmas and more to do with drag-racing, gambling and drinking. And now that we know this, we like it even more! 

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