Since the dawn of the rock era in the mid-1950s, much of the Christmas music produced for popular audiences has had explicitly romantic overtones, only using Christmas as a setting.
When it was composed, it was performed during Passiontide.
Songs which are traditional, even some without a specific religious context, are often called Christmas carols.
Later, the word carol came to mean a song in which a religious topic is treated in a style that is familiar or festive.
From Italy, it passed to France and Germany, and later to England.
Christmas carols in English first appear in a 1426 work of John Audelay, a Shropshire priest and poet, who lists 25 "caroles of Cristemas", probably sung by groups of wassailers, who went from house to house.
During the Commonwealth of England government under Cromwell, the Rump Parliament prohibited the practice of singing Christmas carols as Pagan and sinful.
Christmas carols in the English language first appear in a 1426 work of John Awdlay, an English chaplain, who lists twenty five "caroles of Cristemas", probably sung by groups of 'wassailers' who would travel from house to house.
The Victorian Era saw a surge of Christmas carols associated with a renewed admiration of the holiday, including "Silent Night", "O Little Town of Bethlehem", and "O Holy Night".
These included songs aimed at children such as "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", as well as sentimental ballad-type songs performed by famous crooners of the era, such as "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "White Christmas", the latter of which remains the best-selling single of all time as of 2017.
Popular Christmas music produced from after World War II until the present day has generally remained thematically, lyrically, and instrumentally similar to the songs produced in the early 20th century.
When in May 1660 Charles II restored the Stuarts to the throne, the people of England once again practiced the public singing of Christmas carols as part of the revival of Christmas customs, sanctioned by the king's own celebrations.