“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” is a song written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono and released in 1971 as a single by John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir.
Fundamentally the song was released as a protest song about the Vietnam War. It has endured to become a Christmas standard and has appeared on several Christmas albums.
War Is Over was voted the ninth favourite Christmas song in a VH1 poll. Shortly after John Lennon’s murder on the 8th of December, 1980 it was re-released in the OK and peaked at number 2 in the chart battle for the Christmas number one.
The lyric is based on a campaign in late 1969 by Lennon and Ono, who rented billboard space and posters in eleven major cities around the world that read: “WAR IS OVER! (If You Want It) Happy Christmas from John and Yoko”.
In 1971, the United States was deeply entrenched in the unpopular Vietnam War. The line “War is over, if you want it, war is over, now!”, as sung by the background vocals, was taken directly from the billboards.