Christmas carols are just essential to those cultures where Christmas is celebrated. From Scandinavia to Argentina, every single person has sung them at least once at school, in church or simply together with relatives or friends at the many gatherings that take place on such special days. These popular songs are part of our idiosyncrasy, and they reflect many of the cultural aspects (even stereotypes) that make us who we are. And in this, of course, the Spaniards win hands down.
If you are familiar with German culture, for example, you will be aware of the fact that Christmas is considered to be a time of recollection and peace, which can be seen in most of its Weihnachtslieder (German for carols). Take as an example Silent night, a melodious Christmas carol par excellence, and images of uniformed choirs singing in unison will probably come to your mind right away. If you listen to some Spanish Christmas carols, on the contrary, you might imagine a bunch of tipsy people gathered around a dinner table or in a pub with little or no talent for singing. Sometimes stereotypes are just quite real, and the one saying Spaniards are joyful people who love eating, drinking, singing and dancing with their loved ones is really present in their popular Christmas carols.
Now, here you have three of the traits that best describe Spanish sort of Christmas carols:
- Unusual instruments
In Spain one cannot sing a carol without:
- Unbelievable lyrics that will blow your mind
They have been accepted over the years, maybe because they rhyme, although they were probably written after finishing a bottle or two like the one above…
(The fishes in the river)
Pero mira cómo beben los peces en el río
(Just look how the fishes drink in the river)
Pero mira cómo beben por ver a Dios nacido
(Just look how they drink because God was born)
Beben y beben y vuelven a beber
(They drink and drink and drink all over again)
Los peces en el río por ver a Dios nacer
(The fishes in the river because God was born)
- Tongue twisters undercover
Hacia Belén va una burra, rin, rin,
yo me remendaba yo me remendé
yo me eché un remiendo yo me lo quité, cargada de chocolate
A list with all the Spanish popular Christmas carols would be endless, so we want to finish with the one that is always there: La Marimorena.