‘I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men! [...]‘
The above fragment is the begining of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s (1807-1882) famous poem written on December 25, 1864. He was an American poet whose most popular works include: ‘A Psalm of Life’, ‘Evangeline’, and of course the above mentioned ‘Christmas Bells’ written during the Civil War. The song “Christmas Carol” is derived from this poem, but two fragments directly referring to the Civil War are not included in the song.
Probably all of you, dear readers, easily associate the sound of bells with Christmas. But why bells? Bells Ringing, as far back as we know, derives from winter feasts celebrated by pagan tribes. It was believed that loud noises could scare away evil ghosts and scary spirits of the night. They used to use lots of various noisemakers including bells. It was not only very practical to use bells to keep demons away, but people of that time also found it really fun ringing those bells just to make some amusing noise. So as the history goes by, the ringing of bells was incorporated into plentiful of purposes.
Begining from the aformentioned historical roots, the bells’ ringing began to be used in the Christian Christmas season. The soft and cheerful tones were a good addition that notably enhanced the sounds of the Christmas. Today, they play an important, traditional role during the holiday. The Christmas Bells’ ringing announces the arrival of the Christmas Season, and it proclaims the birth of Jesus Christ.
The other good examples are the events and activities. Bells can announce the coming or arrival of an event, or some kind of occasion. Every church has at least one bell, to call people to gather, to happily ring on a wedding, or to calmly say the last goodbye on funerals. The city Hall bells were commonly used as a mean of notifying citizens of incoming warnings, or to gather them to make important announcements. They toll for good times, as well as bad ones. But the question remains – for whom the bell tolls?