Who Is Parson Brown?

I rarely listen to music. While driving, or at the gym, I choose to listen to audio books or podcasts…that is until December.

Once the calendar turns to December, I turn on the station that plays non-stop Christmas music. I was listening to that station this week when the popular song, Winter Wonderland started playing.

As someone who lives in Arizona, that song is the closest I will get to a winter wonderland. While singing along in my car, I paused when I got to the following lyric:

In the meadow we can build a snowman, then pretend that he is

I paused because I didn’t know which words ended that line. I thought it might be “parts of brown” as if, the snowman has some dirt on him. Then I started thinking, maybe they are saying “parcel brown,” as if in reference to a color that resembles a package you might receive in the mail. For all I know, there is a Crayola color called “parcel brown.”

Confused by the actual wording of that lyric, I decided to look it up. Which brings me to today’s Wonder Why Wednesday…

Wonder Why Wednesday: Who Is Parson Brown?

As I quickly learned, the line from Winter Wonderland says neither “parts of brown” or “parcel brown.” The actual line is “pretend that he is Parson Brown.

Which leads me to by second question: Who is Parson Brown?

Turns out the answer is…no one.

There is not one person named Parson Brown that the song is referencing. Rather, it is more of a figure of speech, like “John Doe.

In 1934, when the song was written, the term “parson” was used for Protestant or Anglican ministers who would travel from town to town and perform weddings for anyone who was without a local minister of their own faith.

Which makes a lot of sense give the lyrics that follow:

He’ll say are you married
We’ll say No Man
But you can do the job
When you’re in town”

The song is referring to a fictional minister or “parson” who could “do the job” of performing a wedding. That is, if the snowman actually came to life.

So there you have it, the song is using a make believe word/name, not too unsimilar to my guess of “parcel brown.”





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