The familiar sight of people walking throughout the neighbourhood and singing Christmas carols is a tradition begun by Saint Francis of Assisi who is sometimes called the “Father of Caroling.” In 1223, Francis encouraged the people of his parish to sing while presenting their Christmas dramas in church. This was a departure from standard practice, since only ordained clergy men were permitted to sing the hymns of the season.
The people were so overjoyed at this chance to sing that they took to the streets after acting out a drama and sang from house to house.
By the 16th century, wandering minstrels, called “waites,” travelled the English towns, accompanying themselves with bagpipes, drums, and fiddles. They repeated their little “concerts“ nightly from Christmas Eve until the feast of Epiphany (January 6).