From the McDonald’s menu to memorable music: Reflecting on singer Mariah Carey’s impact on Christmas culture

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Every year, the familiar tune of singer Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” diffuses into our community as the holiday season arrives. Between this song repeatedly playing on the radio to the commercials that use this song as their soundtrack, her music is infamous. Carey’s 1994 album, Merry Christmas, includes other staple songs such as “O Holy Night,” “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” and “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town.” These holiday songs regularly reappear on music charts such as the Billboard Hot 100 and the United States Spotify Top 50 during the months of November and December. With winter recess only a couple of days away and festive feelings at their peak, Harrisites reflected on their own holiday spirits and how Mariah Carey has played a part in their lives.

To begin the conversation about Mariah Carey, junior Natalia Ramlogan said, “I feel nostalgic when I listen to [Mariah Carey’s songs] because I would always hear it at Christmas time when I was younger. It reminds me of my childhood Christmas spirit. I’m drawn to ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ because it’s like one of the most popular Christmas songs.”

Sophomore Karen Lin agreed with Natalia and stated, “Her Christmas songs are very nostalgic, and they’re classics! Whether it may be karaoke-ing with my friends or setting up Christmas decorations, I always associate it with the comforting holiday season and winter break.” 

Junior Arunima Paul added, “[Her songs] all have such a nice, exciting vibe. If you’re looking to really get into the Christmas or holiday mood, Mariah Carey is the way to go.”

Junior Jeffrey Jun had a personal anecdote. He stated, “I had to sing ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ once in eighth grade. [This song] helps to set the right mood for like Christmas given how everything is so chaotic in the world in general. It’s not Christmas until I’ve heard it for the tenth time.” 

Freshman Sebastian Morales added, “My mom always plays Mariah Carey’s music. I grew to appreciate it and I associate her with the holiday season. Her music has become a staple in my house!”

Senior Omar Hussain remarked, “I hear [Mariah Carey’s songs] literally all December.”

Although Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas album was released 27 years ago, she remains a cultural force upon Harrisites and the American public. For the 2021 holiday season, she partnered with fast-food chain McDonalds to create the “Mariah Menu” and custom merch.

Under this menu, McDonald’s customers were able to receive a select free item each day from Monday, December 13th to through Friday, December 24th with a $1 minimum purchase on the McDonald’s mobile app. The free food items given out to McDonald’s customers on each day vary and are listed below:

Monday, December 13th: Big Mac

Tuesday, December 14th: McChicken

Wednesday, December 15th: Bakery item

Thursday, December 16th: Six-piece Chicken McNuggets

Friday, December 17th: Cheeseburger

Saturday, December 18th: PanHotcakes

Sunday, December 19th: McDouble

Monday, December 20th: Apple Pie

Tuesday, December 21st: Sausage McMuffin with Egg

Wednesday, December 22nd: Double Cheeseburger

Thursday, December 23rd: Sausage Biscuit

Friday, December 24th: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Through the news and promotion by McDonalds of the Mariah Menu, Harrisites learned about Mariah Carey’s most recent holiday endeavor and voiced their opinions. Freshman Kyle Lam, who plans to claim the Chocolate Chip Cookies from the Mariah Menu on Friday, December 24th, stated, “I think it’s a very good deal. All the food on the menu relates to [the] McDonalds [brand]. I would want more [options].” Senior Cherry Leung added, “I didn’t know of the Mariah Menu until now, but… I think Mariah doing this with McDonalds is really funky and cool. I’d like to try it out.”

Sophomore Vivian Chen had a different set of experiences with the Mariah Menu, as she explained, “I’ve never actually had the food on the Mariah [Menu], but I do remember hearing the ad for it multiple times on Spotify. I thought this was interesting because I never expected someone like her to partner with McDonalds. In addition, I thought this was an interesting marketing strategy since the song, ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ is so iconic and [with] someone [influential] like her promoting [the menu], I would definitely go check it out.”

As the days of the “Mariah Menu” come to an end and Winter Recess begins, it is valuable to reflect on how influential holiday artists such as Mariah Carey have remained a cultural icon and shaped the wintry celebrations of Harrisites for years.

Art by Winnie Cheng

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