Here they come a-caroling.
"Caroling, caroling now we go,Christmas bells are ringing!
Caroling, caroling through the snow, Christmas bells are ringing!
—"Caroling, Caroling", by Alfred Burt.
Ah, Christmas time! When the trees are trimmed, presents are wrapped, and people form troupes and go around singing Christmas Songs
. It's just one of the ways to establish that it's that time of the year again.
Carolers are often used in works to establish the season, and help create the environment. But they differ from other such things, Christmas trees, lights, wreathes and holly and mistletoe in that carolers are actual characters and thus are able to interact with each other and at times affect the plot of the story.
If participating, the characters may be the ones arranging it or at least willingly joining in, or they may be pressed into it and dragged along, in which case they will either do everything they can to ruin the experience for everyone else, or will gradually come to enjoy themselves. If listening they may pause to appreciate the singing, perhaps dropping some cash if the carolers have a donation box or they may simply ignore them or even yell at or chase them off, which is common for The Grinch
or the Scrooge.
The carolers themselves can be anything from a family or group of friends who get together and go sing to people, to a full choir singing on the street corners or in the city parks in seasonal costume, often styled after nineteenth century England or early twentieth century America. While they are often shown in small choirs, this is not necessary; it may only be a single person going around singing to friends and neighbors (singing talent optional).
In a fantasy setting, carols for a Christmas Equivalent
could also count.
A staple of the Christmas Episode
. Not to be confused with fans of A Christmas Carol
. Satiracle and mock carols will often be an Anti Christmas Song
- In an ad for Verizon wireless, a young man hears singing outside his house, and when he opens his door, he finds a small group of people caroling to him, in the middle of summer:
"We wish you a red hot deal today
We wish you a red hot deal today
We wish you a red hot deal todaaaay...
And an awesome new phone (awe-some new phooooooone)!"
- In The Next Doctors the presence of carolers tells the Doctor he's arrived at Christmas Eve.
- The Santa Clause has a group of them singing "Carol of the Bells" near the beginning as Scott is rushing home to meet his ex-wife and son.
- Mr. Krueger's Christmas: At one point the eponymous Mr. Krueger invites some carolers down to his apartment. They later invite him to come and join them.
- Christmas with The Kranks has the Krank family being bothered by, among other things, carolers who come by every night.
- Elf: When Buddy first meets Jovie and has trouble reaching her, he tries to lift her spirit by telling her, "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." Later in the movie, when she learns Santa's sleigh has lost its power source because nobody has Christmas spirit, she remembers Buddy's words of wisdom, and tries to boost everyone's spirit by leading a round of spontaneous Christmas caroling, singing, "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town".
- MouseHunt: While Ernie and Lars wander the streets at night, both of them with nowhere to go, cynical Ernie belittles Lars for not looking at the big picture, though Lars says it's Christmas, and instead of dwelling on what they don't have, they should be thankful for what they do have... all the while carolers are singing, "I'll Be Home for Christmas", until the brothers give them an Aside Glance, prompting them to leave.
- During Christmas time in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone ghostly carolers are seen roaming the Hogwarts halls, singing a rather eerie song.
- The first The Addams Family movie opens with the family preparing to drop boiling oil on some carolers at their front door.
- Played with in Love Actually - a character uses a recording of carol singing so he can spend a couple of minutes using cue cards to let another know how he feels and gain closure for himself on the situation.
- Christmas carollers appear near the end of Bridget Jones' Diary. Bridget is single and spending Christmas Eve with her father. They are completely out of the mood and she just yells at them to bugger off.
- Many versions of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol have Scrooge yelling, or worse, at carolers who make the mistake of bothering him.
- The original book has him chasing off a caroler without even opening the door.
- Some stage versions have him yelling at a group singing outside his window.
- Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol starts with a group of kids caroling, but when they come to Scrooge and Marley's, Scrooge kicks their donation cup right out of their hand. All but one of them run off, with the last staring at him before walking away sadly.
- The Muppet Christmas Carol has a particularly heart-wrenching one: Bean Bunny comes to the counting house singing "Good King Wenceslas" and meekly asking for a penny, only to have Scrooge rudely slam the door in his face, then throw a wreath at him. Later, as evening falls, he's seen huddled in a pile of trash, pulling newspapers around him, cold and miserable and alone. Other scenes include a caroling group of female characters singing a line of "Scrooge" and Bobby Benson's Baby Band as "the street-corner choir" in "It Feels Like Christmas".
- A Christmas Carol (1984) goes from carolers straight to Marley's eerie voice.
- The Dark Is Rising series novel The Dark is Rising. Will and several other members of his family go Christmas caroling throughout the village where they live. This leads to a major confrontation with the Dark in which Will acquires one of the six Signs.
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas!: The one thing the Grinch hates most of all is when all the Whos down in Whoville gather together, and start caroling around the Christmas tree. This is carried over into the animated adaptation as well as the live action film adaptation, the latter of which includes a song on the subject by Ben Folds called, "Lonely Christmas Eve".
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: As part of the Yule Ball, the Hogwarts suits of armor are enchanted to sing Christmas Carols, but they only seem to know half of the words. Peeves the Poltergeist took to hiding in them and making up his own versions to fill the gaps.
- The Hogswatch Wassailers in Hogfather are a You Mean Xmas version of the trope. The Lemony Narrator says that if you could lift the scene up, there'd be an interesting assortment of chocolates or biscuits underneath. Since the Discworld runs on parody and deconstruction, the wassailers get interrupted by Foul Ole Ron and his beggar buddies, who are caroling horribly off-key and generally making noise in the hopes that someone will offer them a Begone Bribe.
- One Christmas Episode of Lois and Clark had the two of them sharing a quiet moment together when a troupe starts singing "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" outside Lois' window.
- At one point in "The Ho, Ho, Ho Job" on Leverage, Parker suggests they all go caroling.
- During many a Christmas season The Late Show with David Letterman brings on a group of carolers to sing the "Top Ten Least Favorite Christmas Carols" (which are traditional Christmas carols reworded to reflect currint political satire topics).
- In one Christmas episode of Just Shoot Me!, Nina gets caught int he elevator with some carolers, so she threatens them with a fake gun to get them to shut up.
- In an episode of Life a group of carolers are startled and horrifed when Charlie hits a suspect dressed as one of Santa's elves with a fruitcake.
- Sesame Street: In the Elmo's World special, "Happy Holidays", Elmo is repeatedly visited by a quartet of carolers who keep singing, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" - they have lovely singing voices, but screeching and irritating speaking voices.
- In A Muppet Family Christmas, the Sesame Street characters go out caroling together, and wind up at the house where the cast of the Muppet Show are staying for Christmas.
- Seen at a Christmas party on Veronica Mars.
- Dinosaurs had a Christmas-esque holiday called Refrigerator Day which included carols, which were basically re-worded versions of the real ones, and were also seen being used in advertisements, which Robbie felt cheapened the holiday.
- A few times in Mystery Science Theater 3000.
- In Santa Claus Conquers the Martians Joel and the bots sing Crow's original Christmas carol, "Let's Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas". Later, at the end of the episode, they sing an actual Christmas carol with slightly different lyrics: "Angels we have heard are high / softly sipping old champagne..."
- In Parts: The Clonus Horror, Crow and Tom Servo get the two varieties of wassailing confused. They go house-to-house (or rather, to Mike, since no one else lives on the Satellite of Love) and sing Christmas carols with new lyrics promising severe penalties to anyone who doesn't immediately give them wassail. They themselves have no idea what wassail actually is. Much to their disappointment, Mike finds some canned wassail, and it tastes "skunky".
- Santa punches an obnoxious caroler at one point in Modern Family.
- How I Met Your Mother: To explain their sudden appearance on someone's doorstep on one occasion, Ted says he and the others are carolers and sing "Silent Night".
- On My Name Is Earl, Earl mentions that before the list Joy, Randy, and Donny would pose as these so he could go in and steal all the presents under the tree. It was their way of "Christmas Shopping."
- They sing the Bragging Theme Tune of Blackadder's Christmas Carol. Later after learning it's better to be evil, Ebenezer Blackadder listens politely to the Enormous Orphans serenading him then slams the door in their face.
- "The Twelve Pains of Christmas" by Bob Rivers has singing Christmas carols as pain #12.
- Doofenshmirtz in Phineas And Ferb Christmas Vacation gets so annoyed with some carolers that he actually starts trying to destroy Christmas.
- In The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Rabbit hears someone singing at his door and thinks they're carolers, but it's actually the vegetable eating bugs, trying to get into his kitchen.
- The Simpsons: In "Grift of the Magi" Bart and Lisa do this in order to battle an evil corporation. Kid First Industries releases a new toy, Funzo, that is programmed to destroy all other toys kids get for Christmas. Lisa and Bart go from door to door singing carols as a way of distracting the families while Homer steals the toys (dressed as Santa Claus, of course).
- In the animated version of A Wish for Wings that Work, a group of carolers appear frequently, one of which looks suspiciously like a certain rock and roll singer.
- A Charlie Brown Christmas ends with the gang outside standing around a Christmas tree and singing carols together.
- It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown inverts this, as Linus sits in the pumpkin patch, awaiting the arrival of The Great Pumpkin, Lucy and the others drop by to see if he's still waiting out there, to which he asks them if they came to sing "pumpkin carols" with him.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy: In "Fa La La La Ed", Ed brings the spirit of Christmas to the cul-de-sac, despite it being the middle of July. At one point, Eddy decides to use Ed's gimmick to his advantage by scamming other kids out of change by Ed, Edd, and himself caroling door-to-door, allowing him to buy them a large bag full of jawbreakers.
Deck the halls with boughs of holly
Give us cash, or we'll never stop singing
- One of the "Good Idea, Bad Idea" segments on Animaniacs:
Good Idea: Singing Christmas carols to your neighbors.
- Strawberry Shortcake runs into some while shopping for presents in "Berry Merry Christmas".
- Stores, malls and other public places will sometimes have carolers stationed in or around them during the holiday season.