Seasonal Song Correction


bob tail, not Bobtail

Here we are in the early days of November and the annual debate over Christmas decorations and music is already in full swing. Is it too early to put up decorations? What about playing Christmas carols in stores? All in an effort to instil yuletide spirit in shoppers with the hope separating them from their dosh.  

… the horse’s name is never mentioned – it is not Bobtail

So I thought I’d get my two cents in, but not on whether it’s too early (it is!) but rather another annual topic that gets bandied about at festive meals and parties. Put simply: in the seasonal classic (it actually isn’t about Christmas) Jingle Bells, the horse’s name is never mentioned – it is not Bobtail.

Bob tail refers to the tail being “bobbed”—cut shorter or docked, which was commonly done to the tails of carriage horses to keep them neat and reduce the chance of the tail getting caught in the reins. Bells could be used to adorn the bobbed tail during the Christmas season. 

Phew … that’s done. But I wonder if it was too early to set things straight

The lyrics from 1857 by one J. Pierpoint clearly illustrate that “bob tail” is written without a capital B. Hence it is not the horses name. In fact the actual title is One Horse Open Sleigh, and not Jingle Bells

Phew … that’s done. But I wonder if it was too early to set things straight. Perhaps I should have waited until December, or US Thanksgiving? Oh well … it’s done now.

1 thought on “Seasonal Song Correction

  1. I knew that. Actually, it never occurred to me that the horse was named “bobtail.” I have bobcats in my woods and I know they aren’t named “bob.”

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