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Page last updated at 13:27 GMT, Monday, 12 October 2009 14:27 UK
Cold reception for carol singers

BBC Leicester presenter John Florance
By John Florance
Presenter, BBC Leicester

Holly in snow
Carol singing appears to be a dying tradition of British winter

A recent survey says more than half the British public don't want to hear carol singers at their doors come the festive season.

The poll also showed that more than a quarter wouldn't give a donation to doorstep carol singers.

The survey has been done by Church insurance company, Ecclesiastical which wants communities to think again about how to keep carols as a central part of the Christmas celebrations.

Chris Pitt from Ecclesiastical told me that door-to-door carol singers are increasingly unwelcome with nearly a third of those surveyed, saying they do not want them, with a further 19%, or nearly one in five, saying they will not answer the door to such groups.

It also seems that there are fewer carol singers doing the rounds during the festive season.

Two-thirds of those questioned said there were fewer singers now than 10 years ago and only 2% are planning to sing carols door-to-door this Christmas.

A minority, 41%, said they wanted the tradition of door to door carolling to continue with 22% saying they wanted it to end.

Increasingly we shut up shop come night-fall and are disinclined to open the door to anybody until sun-rise the next day
John Florance, BBC Leicester

All of which I found a bit depressing!

Actually, I don't think these attitudes say much about carols, but they do tell us about our perceptions of anti-social behaviour and domestic safety.

Increasingly we shut up shop come night-fall and are disinclined to open the door to anybody until sun-rise the next day.

There are, I dare say reasons for this, some good, some bad.

And in my experience the quality of carol singing is in decline. Two off-key verses of 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas' at the beginning of December followed by an oafish demand for cash is not conducive Christmas feelings of benevolence and generosity.

The tradition of singing carols in the street in return for a donation is thought to go back to the Middle Ages when beggars performed in return for food or money.

It would be a great pity if the tradition disappeared completely.

So let's hope that proper carol singers are heard on our streets this year, complete with lanterns and decently tunes performances. And not too early!

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