top of page

Five Things To Love About "Winter Wonderland"


Gone Away Is The Bluebird

The lyrics to "Winter Wonderland" were written in 1934 by newspaper editor Richard Smith of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, while he was convalescing at the West Mountain Sanitorium in Scranton. Soon thereafter he asked his friend Felix Bernard to set the song to music. Smith is said to have lived just long enough to hear the original recording before succumbing to tuberculosis.

One-Take Glory

"Winter Wonderland" was first recorded by Richard Himber And His Ritz Carlton Orchestra on October 23rd,1934. Singer Joey Nash recalled:

“Himber had left the studio [following an earlier session] and the musicians were packing up. I so wanted to do this tune, I asked the band, as a favor to me, to try for a master. They agreed, but it would be a one-shot try. If something or someone fouled it up, well, that would be just too bad – in those days, before tape recording, a rendition had to be faultless from start to end: if not, you had to do it again and again. It was a perfect performance.”

My Guy

Himber’s recording inspired Guy Lombardo And His Royal Canadians to cover the song later that year; the resulting single would go on to be one of the best-selling recordings of 1934. (As an aside, whenever The Enthusiast enters a room together with two or more friends, it is The Enthusiast’s Christmas wish that the reader please refer to said assemblage as The Enthusiast And His Royal Canadians. Thank you in advance.)

Holly-Jolly Hooligans notes that the melody to "Winter Wonderland" is a favorite with football (i.e., soccer) fans in England, citing as an example a chant from a match in 2006 between Manchester United and Chelsea:

Mourinho are you listening,

Can you keep our trophy glistenin'?

We’ll be back in May

To take it away.

Walking in a Fergie wonderland!

(Just in case you missed that match, José Mourinho managed Chelsea at the time, and Alex "Fergie" Ferguson managed Manchester United.)

Cold As Ice

The Enthusiast has always found one lyric from "Winter Wonderland" to be the most chilling in all the Christmas canon:

To face unafraid the plans that we’ve made

Walking in a winter wonderland

The Enthusiast can’t help but picture a pair of grim-faced killers, hair matted with ice, sliding off the safeties on their shotguns as they stride slowly forward to face unafraid the plans that they’ve made, walking in a winter wonderland.

Number seventeen in a series.

17 December 2020

The Enthusiast ( is the pen name of critic Michael Collins. He reports back only on what’s good, never what’s bad. He is currently imbued with the holiday spirit.


Karen Madden

Thank you and your Royal Canadians!


Tom Dupree
Tom Dupree

Good one. I can't think of this song without remembering the Roches' hilarious performance on their marvelous holiday album, "We Three Kings." Just reading the title makes me smile.

bottom of page