Six Christmas Lyrics You Didn’t Realize Were Offensive

A lot of you probably enjoy singing along to Christmas music this time of year. That’s fine — but have you ever stopped to think about how offensive some of those words you’re singing really are? 

And I’m not just talking about the garbage in that institutionally racist “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” or that date-rape anthem “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” In fact, here are six other seemingly cute Christmas lyrics that are actually disturbingly problematic: 

1. ”Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way.”

What’s with this song making people feel like they have to “jingle all the way”? I mean, seriously? People need to know that they have the right revoke their consent to jingle at any moment, even if they’ve already starting jingling, and even if the person they’re jingling with is someone they’ve jingled with before. 

2. ”Gone away is the bluebird

Here to stay is the new bird.”

So just because someone is “blue,” he or she should expect to be replaced? In case you don’t get it, the use of “bluebird” here clearly refers to “bird suffering from depression or mental illness.” People suffering from mental illness indeed often are pushed “away” due to the inherent discrimination against them in our society, and to sing about it in some cute little song as if it’s not a serious problem is disgusting. 

You may think that I’m looking too much into this — but please don’t let the fact that I’m a woman make you think that I must be wrong. Rather, the fact that I’m a woman means that I must be right, and that asking me for any further evidence or clarification would be sexist and oppressive. 

3. ”We’ll frolic and play

The Eskimo way

Walking in a winter wonderland.”

Same song, same horribly offensive garbage. First of all, many people view “Eskimo” as an offensive term. Second of all, white people took over Inuit territory in the 1700s — forbidding them from hunting and fishing on their own land and infecting them with smallpox and diphtheria at epidemic levels while they were at it. Does any of this sound like frolicking and playing to you? Didn’t think so. 


4. The entire song “Do You Hear What I Hear?” 

Guess what? Not everyone can hear you. In fact, some people can’t hear at all and I’m pretty sure they don’t need some ableist song to remind them of that all holiday-season long. 

Also, the assumption that other people have been hearing the same kinds of things that we ourselves have been hearing is exactly what is wrong with this society. We all have unique life experiences that shape our views of the world, and we cannot assume that anyone will feel the same way as we do about anything. In fact, we should expect that anything — no matter how harmless it may seem — has the potential to make someone upset, and then spend all of our time obsessing over how to avoid causing this kind of unintentional pain. 

5.  “You better watch out

You better not cry

You better not pout! I’m telling you why

Santa Claus is coming to town.” 

Hey, Santa Claus: Please know that whenever you’re “coming to town,” you’re bringing with you your white, male and Christian privileges. You are in absolutely no position to judge others for how they handle adversity that you know nothing about. 

By the way — “pouting” and “crying” are two of the most noble things that a person can do in our society. After all, these people are usually upset because they are smarter and more culturally aware than the rest of us. What Santa should do instead of judging these people is ask them why they are crying, agree that whatever they are crying over is racist, and tell the elves to stop making those damn toys and work on something that will actually make a difference in solving the problem — like a hashtag campaign. 

6. “Have a holly jolly Christmas

And when you walk down the street

Say hello to friends you know

And everyone you meet”

#related#Okay, “Holly Jolly Christmas” — have you ever thought that one of the people on the street might be a woman who does not want to be said “hello” to? (Yes, women are people too. I know that’s hard for some of you to understand.)

Look: Just because a woman is walking down the street does not mean that it is acceptable for you to talk to her. We may be a bit far off from ending street harassment, but the least we can do is stop letting men use “Christmas” as an excuse to abuse people in this way. Ladies, let’s tell these dudes that — holidays or not — they’re just going to have to get their holly jollies elsewhere! 

Okay, that’s it for now. Happy holidays, everyone! 


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