Bells and Other Joyous Noisemakers
A holdover from pagan times, bells and other noisemakers were believed to frighten away evil spirits. As part of the midwinter solstice festivals, bell-ringing activities were very rowdy, mixing some fun in with the serious intent. As late as the 1890s in the United States, children thought of Christmas and noisemakers as nearly synonymous.
The demise of the tiny, wildly popular Christmas firecracker may have as much to do with care for parental eardrums as with safety concerns. Bells, however—particularly church bells—have remained a staple of the holiday. Today, their peals serve as unmistakable heralds of the arrival of the Christmas season.