When Does Christmas Music Start on the Radio?


Written by

Rafeal Hart


Fact-checked by

Norris Howe

when does christmas music start on the radio

Christmas is one of the biggest holidays in the world. As one of the top 60 countries officially declaring it as a holiday, the United States can relate to feeling the spirit of Christmas way earlier than December 25. One of the best signs of seeing the “spirit of the season” is when the radio plays Christmas songs.

So when does Christmas music start on the radio? The safest guess in the United States is immediately after Thanksgiving (November 23). If you’re wondering why that early (and probably think it’s crazy), other countries announce their countdown much earlier – hence having one of the longest Christmas celebrations in the world.

When Will Christmas Music Start Playing on the Radio?


It is important to take note, however, that not every radio station in every city in North America follows the “after Thanksgiving” rule. In fact, it usually falls around the first week of December for the entire nation to really take notice that radio stations start playing Christmas music.

The tradition of playing Christmas songs on the radio dates back as far as 1906. On the night of December 24th that year, a Canadian inventor played the hymn “O Holy Night” with his violin at a radio station in Brant Rock (Massachusetts) – making it the first broadcasted music in history, curiously via AM instead of FM frequency.

Nevertheless, several exceptions exist to the season-mandated schedule of playing Christmas music.

For instance, the Chrismas shops in New England are places never subject to this rule as it is possible to hear solemn hymns and catchy pop jingles via media players all year round the sooner you enter their door.

Speaking of exceptions, unique circumstances can also make radio stations play Christmas music way ahead of the expected calendar timeline.

In fact, a radio station in Detriot, Michigan got the world’s attention for playing Mariah Carey’s iconic pop Yuletide track “All I want for Christmas is You” as well as Wham!’s timeless “Last Christmas” twice a day during the month of March in 2020.

The main reason behind this unusual programing is that the coronavirus pandemic really threw humanity off. With rising death tolls and lockdowns becoming the all-too-familiar dystopian reality, the broadcast director of the WNIC decided to defy and overcome the atmosphere of hopelessness with festive and meaningful music.

It is also important to note that Christmas was not the only theme featured since it also gave way to Independence Day (the one that occurs in March).

Christmas Music Stations


Now that we are in the internet age, almost everything is accessible even before its intended schedule. Music (any type or genre) is just one of the things readily available at your fingertips.

Across the United States, you can access up to 112 online radio stations dedicated to playing anything related to Christmas.

With these channels (most of which are accessible via SiriusXM), there is no need to wait for the day after Thanksgiving or December 1 for the timeless Yuletide songs to come on the radio.

The question is no longer when to listen but where to tune in. Here are some of the best examples worth considering:

  • Evergreen Radio station
  • Christian Broadcasting Network
  • Surfmusic
  • Christmas FM
  • AccuRadio

Christmas Countdown and Jingles


It is natural for every country that celebrates Christmas to have its own national or cultural form of Christmas countdown.

In some places like the Philippines, the countdown starts as early as September 1.

Oddly enough, in some areas in Greece and Syria (i.e., predominantly Orthodox Christians), the countdown stops on January 6 instead of December 25. One can only wonder when is Christmas music on the radio for individuals living in this part of the Christian world.

In the United States, Christmas Day is on December 25 annually. The so-called Great American Countdown unites like-minded Catholics, Protestants, and even some non-Christians in solidarity beginning on the first weekend of December.

In addition to a few songs mentioned earlier, here are some examples of timeless religious and secular jingles that fill the airwaves throughout the days of the Christmas countdown:

Christmas carols Classic holiday jingles
O Come All Ye Faithful

by King John IV of Portugal

Have Yourself a Merry Christmas

by Frank Sinatra

Silent Night

by Franz Xaver Gruber & Joseph Mohr

Frosty the Snowman

by Gene Autry

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

by Charles Wesley

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

by Andy Williams

Joy to the World

by Isaac Watts

Blue Christmas

by Elvis Presley

O Little Town of Bethlehem

by Phillips Brooks

Jingle Bell Rock

by Bobby Helms

Away in the Manger

by William Kirkpatrick

Let it Snow

by Dean Martin

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

by Edmund Sears

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

by Eddie Cantor

The First Noel

by John Gardner

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

by Jackson 5

The Three Kings

by Peter Cornelius

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

by Gene Autry


Christmas is the time of the year that represents everything good and beautiful in this world. No matter the difference among people in terms of creed, color, or culture, there is always more than one definable thing about Christmas that anyone can agree and celebrate together.

It is not so surprising to think that anyone on earth can ask “when does Christmas music start on the radio?” Without the music that shapes its general atmosphere, Christmas seems to be a very strange holiday to conceive.

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