ママがサンタにキッスした (Mama ga Santa ni kissu shita)

So, being the Christmas-freak that I am, I was walking to work yesterday listening to Naomile’s “Sweets House – Best Xmas Songs”.  In particular, I was listening to the Japanese version of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus“.

Here’s the original by Jimmy Boyd:

And the version I prefer by The Ronettes:

But, I digress. I was listening to this one:

Now, my Japanese skills aren’t that good, but I have listened to this song a number of times and started to understand the lyrics.  What I mean is, I started to realise that the lyrics are different!

The original goes:

I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus
Underneath the mistletoe last night.
She didn’t see me creep
down the stairs to have a peep;
She thought that I was tucked
up in my bedroom fast asleep.
Then, I saw Mommy tickle Santa Claus
Underneath his beard so snowy white;
Oh, what a laugh it would have been
If Daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night

But the Japanese version goes:

Sore wa kinou no yoru
Santa no o-ji-san ga
Omoi fukuro kata ni katsuide
Sotto o-heya ni haitte kitara
Mama wa yorisoinagara
Yasashiku kissu shite
Totemo ureshisou ni
O-hanashi shiteru
Demo sono santa wa papa

Which roughly translates as:

It was last night
when middle-aged Santa
carrying a heavy sack over his shoulder
came in the room secretly.
Mama came closer
and kissed him gently
they chatted on
very happily.
However, that Santa was Papa.

It’s the last line that really got me – “demo sono santa wa papa”! You can’t change that line! It takes all the magic away if the kid singing the song knows that Santa is in fact Daddy! Oh my. Does this mean that less kids in Japan believe in Santa? Actually, the other day my student was telling me how he grew up never believing in Santa because his parents just told him Santa wasn’t real. I mean, on one hand, it is kind of strange that we tell these lies to our children. But, on the other hand, isn’t believing in Santa half of the magic of Christmas?

This makes me wonder how many other songs have had their lyrics altered and, more importantly, why? I mean, is it just a case of making the song sound better, or is there some reason to change the meaning? If anyone knows more about this I’d be happy to hear!

(By the way, I should mention that none of the videos above are mine, I just found them on YouTube.)

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