Not every state in the U.S. has its own official song. However, Georgia has an official State Song, and that song has an incredible history.
In 1930, Hoagy Carmichael (music) and Stuart Gorrell (lyrics) created a song about Hoagy’s sister. Her name was “Georgia.” (Let’s not forget that before the state of Georgia, the word “Georgia” was commonly used as a woman’s name. It is a feminine form of the name “George.”) The name of the song was “Georgia on my Mind.”
In other words, Stuart Gorrell was in LOVE with Georgia Carmichael and wrote a song about how he was always thinking about her.
However, it was another man – a musical genius and legend named Ray Charles – who made the song very famous in 1960 when he recorded it. Ray Charles was born in the state of Georgia and many people actually thought he wrote the song. As a result, there has been a common belief that the song is about the STATE of Georgia, not a person named Georgia Carmichael.
For many years, Ray Charles did not perform concerts in Georgia because of the racial discrimination there. However, things improved enough that by 1979, Ray Charles began performing there again, and even sang the song “Georgia on my Mind” before the members of the Georgia General Assembly (the main legislative/governmental body in the state).
Shortly after, the General Assembly voted to make “Georgia on my Mind” the state song of Georgia. It is a beautiful song and we hope you will listen to it! Here is the original video of Ray Charles singing it to the General Assembly.
Over 70% of the American population identifies itself as Christian. Therefore, there is a strong cultural tradition in the U.S. of Christians (and even some non-Christians) saying “Merry Christmas” to others during and around Christmas time (December 25). This may extend even into the New Year holiday, and some people may say “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”
However, over the years the United States has become more diverse, with citizens and residents practicing all the world’s religions. Also, there have been non-Christian communities in the US for a long time, such as Jews from Europe, and Buddhists, Taoists, and Confucians from China.
Usually some time in December, there is a Jewish holiday called “Hanukkah” which arguably started over 2,100 years ago. There is also an increasingly popular American holiday celebrated by some African-Americans called “Kwanzaa” from December 26 – January 1. It celebrates different moral principles from African cultures and religions.
Because of the great diversity of religions and cultures we can find in America today, as well as the various holidays different Americans celebrate, some Americans today choose not to say “Merry Christmas.” In order to include everyone, they might just say, “Happy Holidays!” It is good to be respectful of people’s unique backgrounds but it is probably also true that when people say “Merry Christmas,” they are really just trying to be friendly and because they are excited about the holiday and special time of year.
Whatever you celebrate (or maybe you celebrate none of these holidays!), we hope you have a great winter and hope you’ll come learn more about American culture at our school!