Meaning of “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” by John Lennon

“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” is a 1971 Christmas song written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The song also features vocals from the Harlem Community Choir.

The lyrics of “Happy Xmas (Ware Is Over)” stem from John and Yoko’s several years of peace activism and their aggressive protests against the Vietnam War in which America was heavily involved.

The song begins with John and Ono whispering a happy Christmas to their kids, Julian Lennon and Kyoko Ono Cox. John was the step father of Kyoko whereas Ono is the stepmother of Julian. After wishing their children a joyful Christmas, the couple devotes the entire song to wishing everyone in the world a very Merry Christmas.

In the song’s sole verse, he again wishes a happy Christmas to all. However, he goes on to entreat the world to come together as one and stop all the fight. Throughout the verse, he hammers repeatedly on the phrase “War is over”. Throughout his adult life, Lennon was a serious critic of war and staunch promoter of peace and unity. He heavily criticized the Vietnam War and America’s role in fueling it. The line, “war is over”, from the song was Yoko and Lennon’s way of protesting against the Vietnam War.

As a matter of fact the couple had used that phrase several times in their numerous protests against the active role America was playing in the Vietnam War.

Yoko and Lennon
Yoko and John Lennon in one of their numerous protests against the Vietnam War.

So in addition to being a Christmas song, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” is also considered to be a protest and anti-war song.

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