Brighton, N.Y. (WHAM) — It’s arguably one of the most popular holiday songs in the world, however, it will no longer be sung at an elementary school in New York.
First reported by the online publication, the Rochester Beacon, Council Rock Elementary in Brighton has decided to remove “Jingle Bells” from its repertoire due to the song’s “questionable past.”
The Rochester Beacon says principal Matt Tappon confirmed the song, and several others, have been replaced with different songs that don’t have the “potential to be controversial or offensive.”
The article says a factor in the decision was research published in 2017 by Boston University professor Kyna Hamill.
In her research, the song’s first public performance may have occurred in a minstrel show nearly 150 years ago, where white actors performed in black face.
The district assistant superintendent for Brighton also told the Rochester Beacon that some suggest the use of collars on slaves with bells may be connected to the origin of the song and that even though they are not taking a stance of whether or not that is true, that line of thinking is not in agreement with “district beliefs.”
Some people in the community believe banning the song altogether goes too far.
“You hear ‘Jingle Bells’ and it’s just the spirit of Christmas time,” says Mary Santiago from Rochester. “Christmas without ‘Jingle Bells’ isn’t Christmas. I feel it’s ridiculous,” she said.
Ruth Ferguson, whose children were once students at Brighton, believes other schools should follow the same lead.
“It is taking away a Christmas tradition. That’s a tradition, like so many traditions, that we need to lose if it’s tied to slavery or racism. It’s just that simple,” Ferguson said.
While speaking with the Rochester Beacon, Hamill says she was surprised a school would ban the song and told the publication she believes it should still be sung and enjoyed by children.