'Jingle Bells' in Spanish

3 versions differ markedly from popular English carol

Jingle Bells
Cascabeles navideños. (Christmas bells.). Ashley McKinnon McKinnon/Creative Commons.

Here are three Spanish-language Christmas songs that can be sung to the tune of "Jingle Bells." Though none of them attempt to be a translation of the English song, they all borrow the bell theme.

Following each song is an English translation, and at the bottom of the page is a vocabulary guide for the boldfaced words.

'Cascabel'

Cascabel, cascabel,
música de amor.
Dulces horas, gratas horas,
Juventud en flor.
Cascabel, cascabel,
tan sentimental.
No ceces, oh cascabel,
de repiquetear.

Translation of 'Cascabel'

Jingle bell, jingle bell,
music of love.
Sweet time, pleasant time,
Youth in bloom.
Jingle bell, jingle bell,
So sentimental.
Don't stop, oh jingle bell,
the happy ringing.

'Navidad, Navidad'

Navidad, Navidad, hoy es Navidad.
Con campanas este día hay que festejar.
Navidad, Navidad, porque ya nació
ayer noche, Nochebuena, el niñito Dios.

Translation of 'Navidad, Navidad'

Christmas, Christmas, today is Christmas.
It is necessary to celebrate this with bells.
Christmas, Christmas, because just last night
the little baby God was born.

'Cascabeles'

Caminando en trineo, cantando por los campos,
Volando por la nieve, radiantes de amor,
Repican las campanas, brillantes de alegría.
Paseando y cantando se alegra el corazón, ¡ay!

Cascabeles, cascabeles, tra la la la la.
¡Qué alegría todo el día, que felicidad, ay!
Cascabeles, cascabeles, tra la la la la.
Que alegría todo el día, que felicidad

Translation of 'Cascabeles'

Traveling by sleigh, singing through the fields,
Flying through the snow, beaming with love,
The bells ring, brilliant with joy.
The heart is cheerful as it strolls along and sings. Whee!

Jingle bells, jingle bells, tra-la-la-la-la.
What joy all day, what happiness! Whee!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, tra-la-la-la-la.
What joy all day, what happiness!

Translation Notes

  • In this context, a cascabel typically refers to a small metallic ball with a piece of metal inside that is designed to make a ringing sound when the ball is shaken. Such a ball is often attached to the collar of a pet or the harness of a horse so its motion can be heard. A cascabel can also be a baby rattle or the rattler of a rattlesnake.
  • Note how dulces (sweet) and gratas (pleasant or agreeable) are placed before the nouns they modify. This is commonly done with adjectives that have an emotional aspect. Thus, dulce after a noun might refer to sweetness as a taste, while dulce in front may refer to a person's feelings about the noun.
  • The suffix -tud is added to a slightly modified root word, joven (meaning young), to turn the adjective into a noun, forming juventud
  • Tan is closely related to tanto; both are used in making comparisons.
  • Cesar is a cognate of "to cease." Just as we would be more likely to use "stop" rather than "cease" in everyday English speech, so would Spanish speakers more likely use parar or terminar. Note how this song uses the familiar second-person form ceses, speaking to the cascabel as if it were a person. This is an example of personification.
  • Repiquetear usually refers to the lively ringing of bells, although it can also be used to the sound of drums or a repeated pounding on something.
  • Navidad is the word for Christmas as a noun, while navideño is the adjectival form.
  • Campana usually refers to a traditional bell or something that is in the shape of one.
  • Hay que followed by an infinitive is a common way of saying that something needs to be done.
  • Festejar usually means "to celebrate," although celebrar is more common. Normally, the event being celebrated (este día) would be placed after festejar, as would be done in English. Presumably, atypical word order was used here for poetic purposes.
  • Either víspera de Navidad or Nochebuena can be used to refer to Christmas Eve.
  • Ya is a vaguely defined adverb used to add emphasis. Its translation is highly dependent on context.
  • Ways of referring to last night in addition to ayer noche include anoche, ayer por la noche, and la noche pasada.
  • Niñito is an example of a diminutive noun. The suffix -ito has been appended to niño (boy) to make it refer to a baby boy.
  • Dios is the word for God. As with the English "god," the word is capitalized when it is used as the name of a specific divine creature, especially the Judeo-Christian God.
  • Campo usually means "field." In the plural, as here, it can refer to an undeveloped rural area.
  • Ay is a multipurpose exclamation that usually has a negative connotation such as "ouch!" Here it seems to be more of a simple shout of joy.
  • Día, the word for "day," is one of most common nouns ending in a that is masculine, breaking a common gender rule.