Words & Music: Irving Berlin (1942)

Lyrics

Verse
The sun is shining,
The grass is green,
The orange and palm trees sway.
There’s never been such a day
In Beverly Hills, L.A.
But it’s December the 24th,
And I am
Longing to be up north…

Chorus
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the tree tops glisten
And children listen to hear
Sleigh bells in the snow.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write:
“May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.”

Background

“White Christmas” is a song reminiscing about an old-fashioned Christmas setting, and was featured in the 1942 movie Holiday Inn. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, a version sung by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single of all time. It has often been noted that the mix of melancholy — “just like the ones I used to know” — with comforting images of home — “where the treetops glisten” — resonated especially strongly with listeners during World War II.

Performances

Here is a chart-topping version by Bing Crosby:

And here is a recording by Doris Day: