“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” is a Christmas song with music and lyrics by British songwriter Tommie Connor and first recorded by Jimmy Boyd in 1952. The song has since been covered by many artists, with The Ronettes version from 1963 being one of the most famous cover versions.
The original recording by Jimmy Boyd, recorded on July 15, 1952, when he was 13 years old, reached No. 1 on the Billboard pop singles chart in December 1952, and on the Cash Box chart at the beginning of the following year. It later reached Number 3 in the UK Charts when issued there in November 1953. The song was commissioned by Saks Fifth Avenue to promote the store’s Christmas card for the year, which featured an original sketch by artist Perry Barlow, who drew for The New Yorker for many decades.
The song describes a scene where a child walks downstairs from his bedroom on Christmas Eve to see his mom kissing “Santa Claus” under the mistletoe. The lyric concludes with the child wondering how his father will react on hearing of the kiss, unaware of the implication that Santa Claus is merely his father in a costume.
Boyd’s record was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church in Boston when it was released on the grounds that it mixed kissing with Christmas. Boyd was photographed meeting with the Archdiocese to explain the song. After the meeting, the ban was lifted.
A less successful version of the song was released in 1952 by Spike Jones (with vocal by George Rock in the little boy voice used in Spike’s hit “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth“). Jones also recorded a parody for his personal pleasure titled “I Saw Mommy Screwing Santa Claus.”
The Ronettes recorded their own version in 1963 for A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector. The version peaked at number eighty-four on BillboardHoliday 100 on the week ending December 9, 2016.
The Jackson 5 recorded the song for their 1970 Christmas album. The version entered the UK Singles Chart on its peak position, number ninety-one, on the week ending December 5, 1987, and charted there for four weeks total. It also peaked at number forty-five on BillboardHoliday 100 on the week ending January 6, 2012, and number one hundred in a Swiss singles chart on the week ending December 29, 2019.
Amy Winehouse performed the song live at Union Chapel, Islington on 15 December 2004 for a BBC Radio 2 show “The Gospel According To Christmas” which was broadcast on Christmas Day. The live recording was released as a single in 2020.
On December 14, 2019, Saturday Night Live sketch featured a version of I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. It was sung by Cecily Strong portraying a child, it also featured Scarlett Johansson as mother, Beck Bennett as Santa Claus, and Mikey Day as father. In addition, the sketch added extra lyrics implying that the singer’s parents have a cuckolding fetish.
Other artists Molly Bee, Bobby Sherman, Andy Williams, The Four Seasons, Reba McEntire (with the title “I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus”), Homer and Jethro, Amy Winehouse, John Mellencamp, Mitch Miller, John Prine, Sammi Sanchez, Tiny Tim, The Cheetah Girls, Ray Stevens, Bif Naked, Jessica Simpson, Teresa Brewer, Rica Fukami, Secret Chiefs 3 and Dionne Bromfield have also covered it. The Dollyrots recorded a variation (titled “I Saw Mommy Biting Santa Claus”) with humorous lyrics. RuPaul and Kip Addotta both recorded versions with changed lyrics titled “I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus.” Twisted Sister recorded their own variation of the song onto their album A Twisted Christmas.