The strange and fascinating stories behind your favorite Christmas songs

Posted: Updated:
(CNN) -

Grab your Mariah Carey vocals. 'Tis the season for Christmas caroling.

Here's a closer look at the stories behind some of your favorite holiday tunes.

'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town'

Inspiration can strike you anywhere, even on a subway. While traveling to a music publisher's office in 1933, the tune's songwriters John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie sat in a subway car and penned the song on the back of an envelope.

    'All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth'

    It started off with Donald Gardner asking a group of second-graders to complete the sentence, "All I want for Christmas is ... " No, no one really said they wanted their two front teeth for Christmas. But when Gardner listened to their wishes, some of the students' lisps gave him the inspiration for his 1948 hit. He went home that night and wrote the song in 30 minutes.

    'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas'

    When songwriters Hugh Martin and Ralph Blaine originally wrote the holiday classic for the 1944 movie, "Meet Me in St. Louis," Judy Garland didn't like it. The actress said it was so sad it would make her co-star Margaret O'Brien cry and leave herself looking like a monster. After some debate, the songwriters changed the song to the version that is in the movie.

    'Do You Hear What I Hear?'

    A plea for peace, maybe? Songwriters and then-married couple Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne Baker wrote the song during the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962. The song later went on to sell more than a quarter-million copies during that Christmas season.

    'I'll Be Home for Christmas'

    Walter Kent and James Gannon's song captured the mood of homesick Americans in 1943, especially the soldiers who were in the depths of World War II. It was the most requested song at Christmas U.S.O. shows in Europe as well as the Pacific.

    'The Twelve Days of Christmas'

    It may actually be an 18th-century memory game intended to help young Catholics learn the tenants of their faith. Over the centuries, some said the song's gifts have hidden meanings, including the "true love" symbolizing God and "the partridge in a pear tree" as Jesus Christ.

    'Let It Snow!'

    That's probably what composer Jule Styne and lyricist Sammy Cahn desperately wanted in July of 1945. That's when they wrote this song, in the middle of heat wave in Hollywood.


    • Most Popular Stories

      • Armed robbers hit Dollar General

        The Dollar General in the 4500 block of East Pawnee was robbed Saturday evening. 

      • One person critical after west Wichita crash

        One person has been seriously injured after a crashed into a business in west Wichita. Police were called to the scene just after 6 Saturday evening when a vehicle crashed into the front of a store in the 3000 block of West 13th street. One person was not breathing when they were taken to the hospital, according to dispatch. The cause of the accident is believed to be a medical issue, but police are still investigating.

      • Inmate missing out of Osborne County

        Police in Osborne County are asking residents to be on the lookout for an escaped inmate.  Authorities say Joel Wagoner escaped the Osborne County jail Friday around 2:42 p.m. 

      • Art exhibit highlighting LGBTQ canceled at catholic university

        Newman University has canceled an art exhibit highlighting members of the LGBTQ community that are from Kansas. 

      • Mother raising 'genderless' baby defends her family's decision

        The mother of Storm Stocker, the Canadian baby being raised with only a few people knowing his or her sex, defended her family's choice to raise their child without regard to gender.

      • Wichita police chief addresses illegal gambling indictments

        A total of six men have been indicted as part of an illegal gambling investigation in Wichita. Three of those charged were law enforcement officers in the community.

      • Man killed in motorcycle crash in south Wichita

        Wichita police say a 37-year-old man died after his motorcycle collided with a minivan on the city's south side.

      • Singer Ed Sheeran announces engagement on Instagram

        Ed Sheeran has announced his engagement to girlfriend Cherry Seaborn.
      • Wichita teen is given surprise SUV

        A Wichita teenager is given the gift of wheels. The organization 1 Spark Foundation was introduced to Samantha Garcia through Wesley Hospital. Garcia is a patient there and frequently misses or needs rides to get dialysis treatments.

      • Dreamers left in limbo over government shutdown

        Disagreement on what to do about the Dreamers, or undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, is one of the main reasons the government is shut down.