With jingle bells and church bells, sleigh bells and ornamental bells, the image is festive and holiday-happy.

The seasonal association with bells goes back centuries, when churches used bells to call the people to prayer. Essayist Charles Lamb was later to call bells "the music bordering nearest heaven."

The Riverside Church in New York City has 74 bells, weighing 40,800 pounds, and is believed to be the largest carillon in North America by total weight.

The carillon at the Kirk-in-the-Hills near Detroit has 77 bells, according to Terry Mayer, president of the Metropolitan New York chapter of the American Bell Association International and a designer of bell jewelry.