But now anyone can release a single after a maths whizz says he has uncovered a formula to deliver the perfect festive hit.
Astrophysicist Matthew Allen examined the 25 most successful Christmas songs to discover they key traits they share.
Apparently the perfect song would be a Guns N Roses record called “Do they know it’s Xmas? – which sadly has not yet been written.
Mr Allen, a PhD student at Cardiff University, looked into song titles, track lengths and gender of the singer, and cross referenced these with highest chart positions, number of times a song hit the top 40 and total sales.
His research shows the perfect festive song needs to be 3.54 minutes long, have ‘Xmas’ in the title instead of ‘Christmas’, and be sung by a male singer in a rock band.
And to guarantee even year-after-year sales and radio play – and therefore more royalties – it should be recorded by a band from the 1980s.
Mr Allen said: “Songs with the word ‘Xmas’ in its title achieve a mean position of 1.5 in the chart, and mean sales of 904,000.
“The top 25 Christmas songs have the three incarnations of Band Aids’ ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ in the list, so if we amend that title it would be a success.
“Ideally, if we could get Guns N Roses to record a song called “Do they know it’s Xmas?’, it would be a massive hit.”
It seems people want to rock out more than feel loved-up at Christmas.
The preference for ‘Xmas’ over ‘Christmas’ may explain why Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ beat Wizzard’s ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ to the top of the chart in 1973.
Slade lead singer Noddy Holder and bassist Jim Lea have pulled in more than £670,000 in royalties from the track this year alone, according to research carried out by prezzybox.com.
Mr Allen, 25, said the high decade for Christmas songs in the chart was the 1980s, when 11 of the top 25 were released.
These include the original Band Aid smash in 1984; ‘Fairytale of New York’ by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl in 1987; and Wham!’s ‘Last Christmas’, also in 1984.
The Pogues smash has earned the Irish group more than £510,000 this year through airplay and sales, and George Michael has pulled in £400,000 as the sole songwriter of the Wham! hit.
The only female solo singer on the hit list is Mariah Carey, with her 1994 hit ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ – bringing in £460,000 so far in 2013.
Mr Allen said: “It is a very male-dominated list, and of course the biggest selling song of all time is ‘White Christmas’ by Bing Crosby, which is estimated to have sold over 50million copies.
“And it seems people want to rock out more than feel loved-up at Christmas, as rock songs are nearly three-times more popular than love songs.”