Thursday, December 6

Filking Christmas Carols

Do you know what 'filking' is?  And, no, that's not a typo.  LOL

Filking is the practice of taking a traditional song and changing the lyrics or the topic of the song to better suit your needs.  It happens at Science Fiction & Fantasy conventions all the time... people writing about Star Trek or Firefly.

For Pagans, a common form of filking is in the reclaiming or re-purposing of Christmas carols.  Some don't need much work to ring true with the spirit of Yule.  "Deck the Halls" is a prime example:

Deck the hall with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
'Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Don we now our gay apparel,
 Fa la la la la la la la la.
Troll the ancient Yuletide carol,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
See the blazing yule before us,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Strike the harp and join the chorus.
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Follow me in merry measure,
 Fa la la la la la la la la.
While I tell of Yuletide treasure,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Fast away the old year passes,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses!
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Sing we joyous all together,
 Fa la la la la la la la la.
Heedless of the wind and weather,
Fa la la la la la la la la. 
Of course there are variations on even this song that replace all mentions of 'Yule' with 'Christmas' or replace the line 'Don we now our gay apparel' with 'Fill the mead-cup, drain the barrel'.  Some Pagans may even find the mead reference more suiting to their celebrations.

But, then there are gems like this reworking of "Jingle Bells":




Popular Solstice Music


A popular filker of carols for Pagans is Karina Skye.  One of her most outrageous, and my absolute favorite, songs is "Faunus, the Roman Goat-God" done to the tune of "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer".  Karina's version makes liberal mention of Faunus' ::clears throat:: endowment and his popularity with the ladies.  Her song is a proper Saturnalia tune, and plays in many homes this season. 

Youtube has entire channels and playlists devoted to Solstice carols sung by people at home, UU choirs, professionals like Karina, and non-filk performers like Jethro Tull, Damh the Bard, Emerald Rose, and Dar Williams


Filking at Home


Rewording carols is nothing new.  If you long for some song sheets to share with your family this Yule, you can check out Willow Firesong's website.  It's another one of those Pagan websites that seems to be as old as the internet.  She lists the lyrics to dozens and dozens of filked carols HERE.  [Warning, this is a free Tripod site with LOTS of popups!!!!]


Another collection, organized by the Greenwood Singers and published by the Green Egg e-zine back in the early 1990's can be found HERE.


Children and Yule Carols


A young Doodle Bug sits in a friend's lap, singing Yule carols and making pomander balls.  [2006]

As most parent's know, children LOVE to sing.  Music is in their bones and is the fastest way to calm a room of children.  Preschools use filked songs to mark just about every transition in the classroom because most kids will join in and act out the words of the song (like singing, "This is the way we pick up toys, pick up toys, pick up toys.  This is the way we pick up toys, before we eat our lunch." to the tune Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush )

Music is a key part of celebration and and easy way for children to join in the holiday fun, especially if you have a special needs child, like our Doodle Bug.  Perhaps you could go caroling with your local Pagan community?  If not, these will be delightful to sing around a backyard Yule log fire or even to play around with while decorating the tree.

So, I hope you'll take a moment to either indulge in filking or at least sing a merry Pagan tune with your witchlets this holiday season.

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