White Christmas" was written in 1940 by a Irving Berlin for the 1942 movie "Holiday Inn" starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.
Apparently, Berlin's assignment was to write a song about each of the major holidays of the
year. But Berlin, who was Jewish, found that writing a song about Christmas was
the most challenging. He drew upon his experiences of the holiday in New York
(including Christmas Trees erected by neighbors when he was a boy) and Los
Angeles, but still felt that the end result was wanting. However, when Bing
first heard Berlin audition "White Christmas" in 1941 he reassured
Irving that he had created a winner. Bing's preliminary evaluation turned out to
be a gross understatement.
The success of the song led eventually to a movie based on
the song. The movie "White Christmas" was released in 1954 and became the leading
box-office draw of 1954.
According to the Guinness World Records, the version sung by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single of all time, with estimated sales in excess of 50 million copies worldwide.