With almost 500 million Spanish speakers around the world, it’s no surprise that the language has its own vast collection of iconic Christmas songs. Many Spanish speakers in Mexico and Central and South America decorate their homes during Christmas with mangers, nativity scenes, and trees hung with ornaments. It’s common for families to have a novena — a big celebration with plenty of food, prayers from a novenario, and, of course, lots of Christmas music.
So what songs are you most likely to hear during the holidays? We’ve compiled a variety of popular Spanish Christmas songs, both original and translated, to put on the stereo (or the Bluetooth speaker!) for this year’s fiesta de Navidad. ¡Vamonos!
Original Spanish Christmas songs
In many parts of the world, Christmas carols are about Santa Claus, presents wrapped with bows, and the natural beauty of the season. While it’s common to hear Spanish songs about Papá Noel or Father Christmas, the holiday — and its music — has a more religious focus in general.
A long list of original Christmas songs in Spanish celebrate the birth of Jesus and tell stories of the three wise men, the Virgin Mary, and other beloved characters. Over the generations, they have standard holiday fare. Here are five of the most popular songs.
1. “Feliz Navidad” (Merry Christmas)
No conversation about Spanish Christmas music would be complete without mentioning “Feliz Navidad,” the iconic song by José Feliciano.
This song has an undeniable feeling of happiness, hope, and Christmas joy and is the perfect choice for dancing around the Christmas tree. It’s also a great song for people looking to learn some Spanish basics.
2. “Los Peces en el Río” (The Fish in the River)
Hispanic culture has a long tradition of villancicos, religious carols that carry themes about the birth of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and other faith-related aspects of the holiday. As one of the most famous villancicos, “Los Peces en el Río” is commonly played over sound systems and performed live all over Mexico and South America during the Christmas season.
The song has a gentle melody and a more somber tone, with lyrics about the Virgin Mary washing the infant Jesus’ clothes in the river. Many recordings are available of this popular song, including contemporary versions and instrumentals.
3. “Mi Burrito Sabanero” (My Little Donkey of the Savannah)
Though it also carries a religious theme, “Mi Burrito Sabanero” is an upbeat and playful Spanish carol that focuses on the titular “little donkey,” who carries Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, where Jesus will be born.
This catchy song has lovely, poetic lyrics in the original language, and kids and adults alike count it among their favorites.
4. “Campanas de Belén” (Bells of Bethlehem)
“Campanas de Belén” is another famous villancico, and one that’s commonly heard across Mexico and South America. The lyrics describe the ringing bells of Bethlehem that signified the birth of Jesus.
It’s a joyful song celebrating the peace brought to the land on Christmas. It’s common to hear versions by both choirs and individual artists.
5. “Vamos, Pastores, Vamos” (Let’s Go, Pastors, Let’s Go)
“Vamos, Pastores, Vamos” is a villancico about the shepherds’ journey to meet the newborn baby Jesus and the Virgin Mary on Christmas Day. It has an upbeat melody and fairly simple lyrics, making it an excellent choice for sing-alongs with kids or people who are learning to speak Spanish.
Spanish versions of English-language Christmas carols
Spanish-language versions of well-known, traditional English-language Christmas songs are also very popular in many Latin American countries. These are four of the most popular Spanish covers of English Christmas carols.
1. “Noche de Paz” (Night of Peace)
“Noche de Paz” is a Spanish version of “Silent Night,” the famous religious carol hailing the heavenly peace of the night Jesus was born. It’s as beautiful in Spanish as it is in English. Many beautiful versions of this song are available online, including renditions by bands, choirs, singer-songwriters, and more.
2. “Navidad, Navidad” (Christmas, Christmas)
“Navidad, Navidad” has a different, more religious meaning than its English version, known as “Jingle Bells.” However, the tune is unmistakable! There are several Spanish versions of this song, including one called “Cascabel, Cascabel,” which is a favorite of kids.
3. “Rodolfo el Reno” (Rudolph the Reindeer)
For those familiar with European and North American Christmas carols, this one will be very recognizable. “Rodolfo el Reno” is a Spanish-translated version of everyone’s favorite red-nosed reindeer.
The Spanish and English versions have very similar lyrics, so despite the translation, it’s easy for even non-Spanish speakers to follow the story and sing along.
4. “Blanca Navidad” (White Christmas)
Last on our list, but certainly not least, is “Blanca Navidad,” a Spanish version of the famous English-language carol, “White Christmas.” As with the English version, this Spanish carol is all about admiring the peace and beauty of a snowy, white Christmas and the joy and nostalgia that comes with it.
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