English Lesson 010: Background of Christmas Song --Jingle Bells' --By Mr. Jim Broadbent (Canada)

Hi, friends, I am so lucky that I have got so much great help and so many supports on my work on the web site. As soon as I sang and published my first Christmas song in Chinese-- Jingle, Bells, I got some good directions from Mr. Jim Broadbent (Canada). I am really interested in what he had written a bout the background of the song and also something about English language. So, I would like to publish it here and hope it is helpful to you as well. :-)

If you enjoy writing and publishing something about English language, your cultures or something else here, If you have any questions, comments and suggestions, please write to , or, You are welcomed.

Sat, Dec 31, 2005

Hi Shirley,

"Jingle Bells" (note the spelling) is a classic American Christmas song. It wasn't originally a Christmas song though. Originally it was written as an American Thanksgiving song in 1850 by James Pierpont. A few weeks after it was written, it was sung again at Christmas and became a classic Christmas song ever since.

The song as you have written it is only the first verse and chorus. The complete song is as follows...I have added some notes to explain some of the interesting aspects of the song.

Jingle Bells

Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh
O’er fields we go
Laughing all the way.
Bells on bob-tail ring (1)
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight.

Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way,
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh, Oh
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way,
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

A day or two ago
I thought I'd take a ride
And soon Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side;
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot,
We ran into a drifted bank
And there we got upsot. (2)


A day or two ago
The story I must tell
I went out on the snow
And on my back I fell;
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh
He laughed at me as
I there sprawling laid


But quickly drove away.
Now the ground is white,
Go it while you're young,
Take the girls along
And sing this sleighing song.
Just bet a bob-tailed bay, (3)
Two-forty as his speed,      (4)
Hitch him to an open sleigh and crack! (5)
You'll take the lead.



(1) There is a bit of controversy here. Some people think that the horse’s name is “Bob-tail”.

Others don’t think it is not the horse’s name since later in the song there is a reference to a “bob-tailed bay”.

I think that it is not the horse’s name since in olden days often the tail of the horse would be braided and wrapped around to keep it up high in the air, and there was a ring around the base of the horse’s tail with bells on it, kind of like decorating the horse!

(2)   “Upsot” is very old English meaning “turn over”. This word is not used in modern language anymore.

(3)   “bob-tailed bay”   in this case, “bay” is a type of horse. It is a horse with a reddish color. This confirms that “bob-tail” is not the name of the horse in my mind.

(4)   “Two-forty as his speed” refers to the speed that the horse can run a certain distance. So in this case the horse can run the distance in 240 seconds.

(5)   “crack” is the sound of the whip.

I hope you like this additional information

Merry Christmas


Dec 26, 2005