“Deck the Halls (with Boughs of Holly)”


Listeners are urged to "Deck the halls with boughs of holly," wear "gay apparel," "troll the ancient yuletide carol," and welcome in the new year


This seems certainly to have been originally a Welsh New Year's song, "Nos Galan." According to Fuld, this was originally published, in Welsh, in 1784. Despite the appearance of the words in the "Oxford Book of Carols," the commentators cited by Fuld consider the song to be exclusively American.

The English words bear no relationship to the Welsh, which is said to be a love song used as a circle dance. Bradley in the _Penguin Book of Carols_ claims it could be used for a forfeit game: The singers danced around a harp, and each singer was called upon to sing a verse in turn, with the singer who failed to do so dropping out of the circle. - RBW

Same tune

  • Deck the Halls with Lefse Slices (Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 19)
  • Deck the Halls (with Gasoline) (Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 99)


  1. OBC 50, "Nos Galan" (2 texts, of which the second is this piece, 1 tune)
  2. Silber-FSWB, p. 382, "Deck the Halls" (1 text)
  3. Fuld-WFM, pp. 193-194, "Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly"
  5. ADDITIONAL: Ian Bradley, _The Penguin Book of Carols_ (1999), #17, "Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly" (1 text)
  6. BI, FSWB382A


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1881 (tune published 1784 as "Nos Galan" in Musical and Poetical Relics of the Welsh Bards)
Keywords: Christmas nonballad