5 Christmas Mondegreens

Merry Christmas, all!

Interrupting the flow of my email rules to bring you my five favorite Christmas song mondegreens.

What is a mondegreen? The term refers to misheard words in a song. According to Leanne Italie of the Associated Press, who interviewed expert Grant Barrett, the word “mondegreen” arose from a 1954 Harper’s Magazine column written by Sylvia Wright. Wright discovered that for years she had misheard (and mis-repeated) the first stanza of the Scottish ballad “The Bonnie Earl o’ Moray.”

The original line from the ballad: “They have slain the Earl of Moray, and laid him on the green.”

What Ms. Wright heard: “They have slain the Earl of Moray, and the Lady Mondegreen.”

Christmas songs, especially as sung by children, are ripe for mondegreens. Here are my five favorites (in English).

1. From ‘Silent Night’ – “…sleep in heavenly peas…”

2. From ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ – “…6 geezers laying…”

3. Also from ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ – “…9 lazy Hansens…” (instead of “ladies dancing”)

4. From ‘Santa Claus Is Comin to Town’ – “…making a list, of chicken and rice…”

5. From ‘Winter Wonderland’ – “Later on milk and spiders, as we dream by the fire.” (instead of “Later on we’ll conspire…”)

Do you have some favorite Christmas song mondegreens? Please share!

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