Ukulele Holiday Spirit 2023: 300 Years of Holiday Magic


Getting tired of holiday music yet? Aw, c’mon, don’t be a Grinch! Maybe what you need is a little change of pace from the usual Christmas fare, and we’ve got that for you this week, with four stylistically diverse tunes composed by a Russian classical music giant, an 18th century English minister, a 19th century insurance salesman, and one of the brightest lights in the modern ukulele world. Enjoy!

Check out more Ukulele Holiday Spirit 2023 articles here.


Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy

One of our family’s favorite holiday CDs is the Modern Mandolin Quartet’s take on Tchaikovsky’s epic Nutcracker Suite. If those bright melodies translate well onto mandos, I figured there must be cool versions played on ukes, and indeed there are many solo uke versions on YouTube. Here’s a beautifully played rendering of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from ukulele virtuoso Evan J. Silva, who has many fine performances on his YouTube channel.

Hawaiian Joy to the World

Here’s a warm Hawaiian spin on a classic Christmas song. A sweet-singing acoustic trio going by the name Koko, consisting of Ron Kuala’au (ukulele), Zanuck Lindsey (guitar), and Dennis McCees (bass), bring much depth and feeling to “Joy to the World” The first two verses are sung in Hawaiian, the third in English. This 2017 video recording of the song written in 1719 was part of the magnificent Acoustic Live! series, shot on Oahu.

What Child is This?

Sometimes it’s not about virtuosity, but instead simplicity. Check out this understated, elegant fingerstyle approach to “What Child Is This” (without the lyrics it’s actually just “Greensleeves”) from guitarist and ukulele player Madeline Ledford. She plays it on a really nice-sounding baritone uke.

It’s Christmas / Kiss Me on Christmas

We wrap up this week’s selection of holiday tunes with a couple of spirited original songs by one of my favorite ukulele artists, Victoria Vox. She wrote and recorded “It’s Christmas” for The Holiday EP back in 2008, and to my ears, it’s one of the better contemporary holiday songs—it sounds like a classic number that could be covered by, well, everyone! Love the mouth trumpet solo! Here, Miss Vox is joined by hubby Jack Maher, Dani Joy, and Perry Stauffer. After that number they jump into a light, swingin’ tune Victoria and Jack wrote a couple of years ago called “Kiss Me on Christmas.”