Christmas Songs in Spanish

Christmas Songs in Spanish for a Fabulous Navidad

Christmas tree in Mexico City
La Navidad en la Ciudad de México. (Christmas in Mexico City.). Photo by Abraham P V; licensed via Creative Commons.

Singing Christmas carols in Spanish can be one of the most fun ways to put your Spanish skills to good use. On the one hand you will practice pronunciation and learn new vocabulary, and on the other, by reading the lyrics, you can identify the parts of speech that you are already familiar with.

When and Where Do We Sing These Songs?

Christmas traditions are big in Spanish and Hispanic cultures; with a heavy Catholic heritage most people decorate their houses first with mangers, and then with trees. The Hispanic tradition calls for the "novena" or "posada," the nine nights before Christmas Day when you meet with friends and family, read prayers from a "novenario," eat lots of good food and of course, sing many songs. These "novenas" take place in family homes, but some neighborhoods host them in open spaces.

This collection of seasonal songs contains some that are commonly sung in "novenas" but also at church during Christmas celebrations, particularly during the Holy Mass that takes place on December 24th at midnight (remember that for most Hispanics the big Christmas celebrations happen on Christmas Eve and not on Christmas Day).

Practicing Spanish Through Villancicos

Below is an index of links to popular Christmas carols in Spanish, also known as "villancicos," paired with their English versions. Note that in some cases the translations listed here aren't the only ones available, so don't be surprised if the Spanish lyrics aren't the same as you've seen somewhere else or sung before. For example, Silent Night, Holy Night has been translated as both Noche de Paz, Noche de Amor and Noche de Luz, Noche de Paz. Note also that in a few cases the translations are far from literal: anyone who has tried translating songs will understand why it is so difficult, as it requires the song's meaning, rhythm and rhyme to be conveyed in the resulting translation. Some of the carols include a grammar and vocabulary guide for classroom use or personal study.

With the exception of the English version of Los Peces en el Río (an original for this site), all these songs are in the public domain, so feel free to share them with your classroom or music group. Write down all the new vocabulary you learn, and conjugate each new verb in all the tenses you already know. There is no better way to learn than through catchy songs!