12/23/2012 12:11 pm ET Updated Feb 22, 2013

What Was It Really Like -- That "Silent Night"?

This holiday season, America's favorite Christmas song is "Silent Night" -- according to a recently conducted survey by American Pulse. Written back in 1818 in Austria, "Silent Night" was introduced t at a Christmas Eve mass that year, and its popularity is now worldwide.

Its lyrics are known to countless millions, and the words of "Silent Night" conjure up the image of a beautiful scene, and the mental picture we have is one of peace and tranquility.

But what was it really like that "Silent Night"? Probably neither peaceful nor tranquil.

Consider that the shelter was a stable, and since the inn was full that night, so must have been the stable -- full of foul-smelling animals.

It was surely uncomfortable for a young woman who had just given birth, and it must have been a challenge to keep the newborn baby warm, with infant lungs taking in chilly night air.

And then there was the stress of the journey already made, and the one yet to come.

It all adds up to a situation not conducive to sleep or rest. That "Silent Night" must have been a very long night.

We do not know, of course, the details of that night of nights, and there will always be those who will remind us that there is no real proof that the Christmas story is fact, and not fiction. And that is true.

But what a wonderful feeling it is to believe that there was such a night/