"Happy Xmas (War Is Over)," by John & Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band, has become one of the best-loved Christmas songs. The lyric is based on a campaign in late 1969 by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who rented billboards and posters in 11 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.
It was recorded at Record Plant Studios in New York City in late October 1971, with the help of producer Phil Spector. It features heavily echoed vocals and backing vocals from children of the Harlem Community Choir.
The recording starts with spoken Christmas greetings from Ono and Lennon to their children: Ono whispers "Happy Christmas, Kyoko," then Lennon whispers, "Happy Christmas, Julian."