Welcome to The 12 Days of Christmas Songs: an attempt to uncover the forgotten history of some of the most memorable festive tunes. From December 14 through 25, we’ll be tackling one secular song and one holy song each day.
It’s offline now, but previously published hot takes about the coldest season report that there was once a Facebook group entitled “Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ IS NOT A CHRISTMAS SONG!” The case it made is easy enough to imagine. George Michael’s crooned tale of getting cuffed then dumped happened to be set around yuletide, but it could have taken place at any time of the year.
Or could it have?
It’s a truism that, for many people, Christmas has gone beyond its religious meaning to become a pan-cultural annual frenzy of consumerism. But it also should be recognized as a pan-cultural frenzy of emotion. That’s partly because of the ritual of giving and getting, which forces vulnerability, gratitude, consideration of others, and expectations that are either met, exceeded, or disappointed. Michael is playing with that fact: Him “giving” his heart wasn’t just a declaration of affections; it was a gift in a way that it wouldn’t be another time of year. And the person he gave it to regifted it. That’s a special kind of ouch.