You’ll know that Christmas is approaching when traditional Christmas melodies waft from inside homes and shops, filling the air with magic. In Spain, carolers sing familiar villancicos, adding to the merriment. If you’re learning Spanish, now is the perfect time to learn popular Spanish Christmas carols right in time for the holidays.
This article will help you with that!
1. Blanca Navidad
First, let’s start off with a song you probably already know. Known to the English-speaking part of the world as “White Christmas”, the Spanish version was interpreted by the Spanish singer Lucía Gil and with the collaboration of Ismael García.
The lovely tune talks about the beauty of a white Christmas and how the kids enjoy Christmas as it approaches.
2. Los Peces en el Río
This song is one of the most popular villancicos. The title means, A Fish in the River, and unlike other Christmas carols, this one is centered on the Virgin Mary as she washes newborn clothes in the river.
The song describes Mary’s reflection in the river and then follows on about the birth of the baby Jesus. A story of Jesus told in a humble tone, it oozes with tranquility and harmony--no bells and whistles or strong drum beats--just a simple peaceful Christmas song.
3. Campanas de Belén
In each stanza of Campanas de Belén, the song tells us a key moment of Jesus’ birth. It starts with the announcement of the birth of Jesus which uses the metaphor of the sound of bells to express joy. It is followed by the celebration of the birth and how the shepherds go to Bethlehem with their “curd cheese, butter, and wine”.
4. Canta, Rie, Bebe
This Peruvian Christmas carol urges listeners to “sing, eat, drink” to celebrate Christmas. Christmas is a season to be filled with joy so as the song goes, “canta, rie, bebe!” to your heart’s content!
5. Ya Vienen los Reyes
Based on the tradition of how the Three Kings brought gifts on January sixth, this villancico is used to explain and remind the children what present each king brought to the manger when they came to Bethlehem to see the child.
6. Vamos, Pastores, Vamos
A traditional Spanish carol enjoyed by generation after generation especially in Latin America, Vamos, Pastores, Vamos means “Let’s go, Shepherds, Let’s go!”. The song talks about the shepherds’ journey to visit the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus in Bethlehem.
Created by Jeremías Quintero who is said to have composed about 3 thousand Christmas carols, the song has a soft and cheerful melody and easy lyrics.
7. Noche de Paz
Noche de Paz is the Spanish version of the Christmas song known all over the world. I’m talking about “Silent Night”!
This song was originally composed in German by the Austrian schoolmaster and organist Franz Xaver Gruber and written by Austrian priest Joseph Mohr.
8. Hacia Belén va una burra, rin, rin
This Christmas carol is very easy for children to memorize, no wonder it’s a favorite among kids! When the Christmas season arrives, they usually sing this in schools and the little ones repeat: "rin, rin".
The title translates to “Towards Bethlehem goes a donkey, jingle jingle” and talks about--you guessed it--a donkey on his way to Bethlehem.
9. El Burrito Sabanero
Another Spanish Christmas carol that talks about a donkey, this one is about a “Little Donkey from the Savannah”. The song is also often referred to as El Burrito de Belén or “The Little Donkey from Bethlehem”.
Very popular in Latin America, this Venezuelan Christmas carol was created by Chilean harpist and composer Hugo Cid for the 1972 Christmas season.
10. Arre Borriquito
Yet another Spanish Christmas song about a little donkey! "Arre borriquito" means “Come on, little donkey”. This playful and humorous yet somewhat mischievous song with a catchy rhyme is usually one of the favorite songs of little kids.