What does White Winter Hymnal mean?

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Fleet Foxes: White Winter Hymnal Meaning

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White Winter Hymnal Lyrics

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I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the pack,
All swallowed in their coats
With scarves of red...

  1. 1TOP RATED

    anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jan 18th, 2013 1:30pm report


    The song is ripe with references to the french revolution.
    "Swallowed in their coats" refers to the style of puffy coat that was popularized during the revolution
    "Scarves of red" refers to the red scarves or hats worn to show loyalty to the revolution and those who didn't, especially nobility, were executed, hence the "keep their heads" and the "White snow as strawberries".



  2. 2TOP RATED

    Izzy
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    Dec 5th, 2017 12:34pm report


    I’m almost 100% sure it’s about the French Revolution. If people did not wear red hats or scarves and they would be seen as,”Not supporting the revolution.” So then they would decapitated

    “I was following the
    I was following the
    I was following the
    I was following the
    I was following the
    I was following the
    I was following the
    I was following the pack” part to me resembled. A team of French revolutionist; multiple people a repeating the same thing as they are all following each other.

    “All swallowed in their coats
    With scarves of red tied ‘round their throats to keep their little heads from falling in the snow”

    They had to wear coats because-well-it’s cold. And the scarves resemble the red scarves they had to wear, or else their little heads would get decapitated. (most likely young boys, that’s probably why it says little heads)

    “And I turned ‘round and there you go
    And Michael you would fall and turn the white snow red as strawberries in the summertime.”

    Maybe Michael tripped and his scarve fell off so while he was rushing to find it (so he wouldn’t get decapitated) he possibly accidentally buried it under the snow. Or he was tired of living a miserable life having to fight in the revolution so he took it off wanting the sweet release of death.

    If you listen to the instrumental you can hear drums.OH GOD I HAVE ANOTHER THEORY. Maybe Michael was a young drummer boy who is extremely tired from carrying and playing a heavy drum so he passed it but as he was falling the scarf fell off and he got decapitated because they though he took it off on purpose.(this next one is following my first theory) Maybe the drums resemble the drums that the drummer boys are playing at his funeral, if they even gave him a funeral that is.

    Apart from all the theories, I must say that this is a very catchy and brilliant song.



  3. 3TOP RATED

    anonymous
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    May 22nd, 2015 5:46pm report


    The song immediately made me think about the Russian Revolution. Those who wanted to survive wore the "strawberry red" scarves in of the revolutionary movement. Many who did not wear the scarves were assumed to be against the revolution and were beheaded. The revolution brought an end to the lives of the Czar and his family. One of the goals of the revolution was to bring an end to religion. The patron saint of the Czar's family was the Archangel Michael. The death of Michael could represent the end of the Czarist rulers and the religion.



  4.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 5th, 18:23 report


    It’s about goats.



  5.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 5th, 15:15 report


    I thought at first Michael fell into another dimension, but when I kept listening I thought when it said ”with scarves of red tied round their throats...” it meant they had scarves around their necks to keep their heads from falling off.



  6.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 4th, 23:26 report


    I don't know if this is correct, but my friend told me that this song was about a kid named Michael who was playing in the snow. Then suddenly he saw a pack of dogs so he went chasing after them, and slipped on ice. When he slipped, he hit his head on a rock and started bleeding so the white snow turned red as strawberries in the summertime. However, I thought something completely different. I heard this song and the only phrase I was focusing on was, "And Michael, you would fall and turn the white snow red
    As strawberries in the summertime." So, I thought why would the snow turn red if he just fell? Well, it answers my question when it says, "With scarves of red tied 'round their throats To keep their little heads from falling in the snow." This can mean various different things, but the one, in my opinion, that makes the most sense would be that Michael could be one of the many prisoners who are supposed to be executed, and they didn't have a place to hold their heads so they had scarfs on so the executors could hold them in place. Sadly when it was Michaels turns his head fell into the snow, like the rest, and the blood turned the snow red.



  7.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 4th, 23:13 report


    i think this song is about the sacrificing of lambs like in the bible



  8.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 4th, 22:31 report


    To me it sounds like children are dying playing in the snow



  9.  

    anonymous
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    Nov 20th, 11:36pm report


    I always thought this song was about a fox hunt. At least that's what my friend told me. The hunter is "following a pack" of foxes. "All swallowed in their coats" I interpreted to mean that they were in their fluffy winter coats and they had fluffy fur on their necks that were interpreted as scarves. When the hunter has "turned 'round," to try to shoot the foxes, they run, leaving the man (Michael). Then, when he tries to chase the foxes, he trips on a low lying branch, landing on the ground with a scraped knee that bleeds through his pants. That's what turns the snow "red as strawberries in the summer time." This isn't about decapitation, people, because, for starters, why would you call a group of French a pack? And why would a beautiful song like this have such a wretched meaning??? You know you're ruining the beauty for me???? Anyway, just think about the fact that no one dies. The foxes get away, and Michael only gets a scrape.



  10.  

    anonymous
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    Nov 12th, 11:15pm report


    This might sound pretty dismal but please hear me out. I always thought this song was about people being hung. When they say "scarves of red tied round their throat" I think that means the rope digging into their flesh and then there is blood. "To keep their little heads from falling in the snow" could mean that the rope is the only thing suspending them above the snow. "Red like strawberries in the summertime" most likely refers to the blood in this interpretation.



  11.  

    anonymous
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    Sep 8th, 9:33pm report


    I looked up this song because it was needling me to not know what the song meant. Robin Pecknold wrote it about an experience he had when he was a child. Apparently, he was "ditched" by his buddies in middle school and that's what the whole song is about.

    Having said that, it does, in my opinion, sound more like a song dedicated to a single group of people that all do something the same way and if someone steps out of that "norm," they'll be ostracized, marginalized, or otherwise looked down upon.



  12.  

    anonymous
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    May 20th, 2019 5:13am report


    I thought of birds (as a low rated commenter said earlier) and kids. Then I had to read the lyrics to find out what they were.

    Then I thought of a girl with her boyfriend who fell and turned the snow red with the scarf.

    Then I discovered that they're meaningless. Also, read somewhere about the loss of innocence. Kids belonging to a click doing normalkid things then getting into drugs. Like all the ideas here.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


  13.  

    anonymous
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    Jan 2nd, 2019 1:11am report


    I agree with the French Revolution bit, but not the Michael part. Remember that Michael is an angel, and he was supposed to be a warrior of some sort. He was a saint to many (including many French) people, and in one battle he was defeated but resurrected by god. Apparently he “fell” to earth, as in “And Michael you would fall” as if he were to fall, or if people were to stop fighting, they, too, would fall.



  14.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 18th, 2018 12:33am report


    It is a catchy song jndeed but it gives you a gut feeling that it is of a dark nature. I believe that it is talking about those that had to wear red scarves to stay alive. But being that it is Christmas....your heart wants the song to be cheerful so I like to think that it is about snowman.



  15.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 11th, 2018 12:43pm report


    I think it's about parents following their childen. Michael, the slow one, slipped on ice and the blood colored the snow red. When they say they wore the scarves to keep their heads from falling in the snow, they mean that as a metaphor. They're just saying that it was so cold, that if they took their scarves off, they're heads would freeze off.



  16.  

    anonymous
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    Nov 25th, 2018 11:27pm report


    The first thing I thought this meant was that some kids were walking home from school in winter so they had coats and scarves. A boy named Michael was walking towards the back and when one of the kids turned around they saw that Micheal fell and got scraped and the blood got on the snow.
    The snowman idea made sense too,and so does the one about the French Revolution.



  17.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 28th, 2017 12:24am report


    You all have various well thought interpretations
    I thought they were singing about little birds,
    swallows, with red breasts, and could not figure
    out how that kept their heads from falling in the
    snow. Revolutionary scarves makes more sense to me.



  18.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 25th, 2017 12:20pm report


    Actually I was wrong. The word really is swallowed. My bad! Sorry guys



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