Nothing quite gets me in the holiday spirit the way music does. And while I love and support pagan musicians, around this time of year I really want to hear those traditional songs of my youth.
Unfortunately, traditional “Christmas music” is just chock full of Emmanuels and hallelujahs and other things that – as a pagan – kind of skeev me out. Even lists of “secular” holiday songs tend to center heavily on Christmas itself.
So the last couple of seasons, I’ve been looking for recognizable, fun and memorable songs for the Yule season that don’t feel so Jesus- or Christmas-focused, and there are more than you think!
Here’s a handy list of 25 songs I’ve found to help you build your own Yuletide playlist.
There are plenty of songs, particularly from the 40s and 50s, that are very familiar as holiday songs, but have no mention of Christmas at all.
Walking in a Winter Wonderland
Let it Snow
Deck the Halls
Jingle Bell Rock
Santa Claus is Coming to Town
There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays
These songs don’t take Yule too seriously. Though still pretty agnostic, the last three refer to Christmas or take place Christmas Eve, so you’ll have to decide how much Christmas reference you can handle!
Frosty the Snowman
You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
Because nothing says “the holidays” like spiders in your soul…
Santa never sounded so sexy…
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
Miss Fogarty’s Christmas Cake
Some songs may have Christian lyrics, but are just as recognizable – or more so – in their instrumental form.
Christmas Eve/Sarajevo (The Carol of the Bells)
While I can’t recommend The Carol of the Bells with lyrics for a pagan household, the instrumental versions are classic and none more so than this striking rock version by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
If you grew up with Charlie Brown, this Beethoven classic just screams “the holidays.”
The Nutcracker March
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies
Here are a few that are on the cusp, mostly because they either reference Christmas or God, have Christian undertones (though with pagan messages) or they’re just a little unusual. Still, these make the cut for my Yule playlist, and might for yours, too.
Good King Wenceslas
There’re a lot saints here, true, but the message of compassion and kindness is pretty universal.
Here We Come a Wassailing
This old carol does ask God to bless you, but otherwise it’s very pagan. I personally adore Kate Rusby, and think she does this one better than anyone.
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Just one mention of Christmas in this one!
Louisiana Christmas Day
Now, this Aaron Neville song may not be all that familiar to some of you, but as a Louisiana girl far from home, it’s a perennial favorite of mine, so I thought I’d include it.
Such a Night
Another not-particularly-Christmasy Christmas song from Aaron Neville.
And last but not least…
Dar Williams’ anthem to tolerance should be on every pagan’s Yuletime playlist.
The Christians and the Pagans
If you download all of these songs, you’ll have over an hour of Jesus-free holiday tunes!
Note: If you have Amazon prime music, nearly all of these are free. (I think I paid about $3 total for the whole list.
Do you have a favorite that should be here? Let me know!