Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘White Christmas’: All About the Holidays’ Most Classic Song

‘White Christmas’: All About the Holidays’ Most Classic Song

The classic holiday standard “White Christmas” evokes nostalgia and festive feelings like few other popular songs. Irving Berlin composed the song for the timeless 1942 film Holiday Inn. From the beginning, Bing Crosby brought the song to life. However, it was originally performed as a duet with costar Marjorie Reynolds.

Since its debut, “White Christmas” has established an incomparable legacy as a seasonal song. Of course, it became a cherished anthem for Crosby. Even after 80 years, “White Christmas” remains an integral part of our holiday season, evoking images of snow, sleigh bells, and festive decorations. It’s simply synonymous with the holidays.

Conflicting tales surround the genesis of this famous tune. Legend has it that in 1940, while in sunny La Quinta, California, renowned songwriter Irving Berlin, famous for hits like “God Bless America,” created the timeless melody of “White Christmas.”

Bing Crosby performed the song publicly for the first time on Christmas Day in 1941, during NBC’s Kraft Music Hall radio show. He later recorded it for Decca Records in May 1942, and it was featured in the film Holiday Inn, released in August of the same year. By October 1942, “White Christmas” topped the charts on the popular radio show Your Hit Parade. The song remained on the Billboard charts for 11 weeks in 1942. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, with Berlin actually presenting the award to himself.

The Song Gets Its Own Film With 1954’s ‘White Christmas’

After its initial Christmas debut, the song’s popularity grew steadily with each passing holiday season. Twelve years later, it had gained enough recognition to serve as the inspiration for the 1954 film White Christmas. Starring Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen, this movie marked the first release in the widescreen, VistaVision format. It was a monumental success, emerging as the highest-grossing film of 1954. Even today, it continues to be a cherished holiday classic, receiving frequent airplay during the festive season.

For many years, the Bing Crosby television Christmas special was a cherished tradition. It aired annually until 1977, the year the singer passed away. A notable highlight of each special was Crosby’s rendition of “White Christmas,” which eventually became his signature song. Of course, it’s since been recorded by everyone from Michael Bolton to Garth Brooks. Still, Bing remains the Christmas crooning king.

Catch the classic movie White Christmas on AMC, airing at 2 pm on Tuesday, December 12th. You can also stream it on Netflix.