Tag Archives: spanish

Christmas Songs

Canciones de Navidad/ Songs of Christmas

The songs of Christmas are an important part of the holiday season in Dominican Republic. Both the traditional carols and the fun merengue tunes. Everyone loves to sing along.

Christmas | Songs | Decorations | Traditional Foods | Town and Neighborhood Traditions | Children – Three Kings Day | El Burrito de Belén song and lyrics | Christmas Words | Picture Collection – Christmas in Colonial Zone and Dominican Republic


Singing Christmas carols, known as villancicos, for the neighbors and inviting the singers in for a treat or a nice drink is a fun tradition here on the island. The drink is usually Té jengibre / Ginger tea (ginger tea recipe), coffee, and for imbibers ron/ rum. The caroling venture usually wrap-ups with a good party that includes drinking, dancing and in general a good time for all.

Christmas / Navidad lights at Brilliante Navidad
Christmas / Navidad lights at Brilliante Navidad

There are many Holiday songs here that are unique to the Dominican Republic and the other Latin American countries. Here, as in most of the Latin countries, many of the Christmas songs are accompanied by a merengue rhythm. This results in the Christmas carols being quite danceable, which all Dominicans delight in.

Some notable songs in this style are Volvió Juanita by Milly Quezada, Salsa pa tu lechón by Johnny Ventura, La trulla navideña by del Conjunto Quisquella.

The traditional Christmas songs in English cannot be translated word for word to make any sense in Spanish. Because of this many of the songs in Spanish can be totally dissimilar. Note also that in many cases the translations are far from literal because if they were translated word for word the rhythm and meaning of the song would be lost.

Spanish – English Christmas Songs

School children doing a Navidad Show in Parque Rosado
School children doing a Navidad Show in Parque Rosado.

Here are some names of English Christmas songs with their counterparts in Spanish.

*Ya llegó la Navidad/ Deck the Halls
*Feliz Navidad/ Merry Christmas
*Qué verdes son/ O Christmas Tree
*Adornemos Nuestras Casas/ Deck the Halls
*Venid, Adoremos/ O Come All Ye Faithful
*La Primera Navidad/ The First Noel
*Felixidad al Mundo/ Joy to the World
*Jesús en Pesebre/ Away in a Manger
*Campanas de Navidad/ I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
*Noche de Paz/ Silent Night
*Noche Sagrada/ O Holy Night
*A la Nanita, Nana/ Traditional Lullaby
*Los Tres Reyes/ We Three Kings
*El Niño del Tambor/ The Little Drummer Boy
*Los doce días de Navidad/ The 12 Days of Christmas
*Hoy en la tierra/ Angels We Have Heard on High
*¿Qué niño es éste?/ What Child Is This?

CASCABEL/ Jingle Bells

One of my favorite, simple Spanish carols is Cascabel. There are many different versions but the one I have here is my favorite version because it has the traditional Jingle Bells tune.

Es Noel, es Noel Suena el cascabel De un venado muy veloz Que tiene Santa Claus Corre ya, juega ya
Hoy es Navidad Los juguetes hay Que dar por Toda la ciudad Qué bonito es, Es correr con rapidez
Ir con Santa Claus y escuchar su voz Suena el cascabel Quiero ir con él Con mis amiguito
Y cantar feliz noel!!!!

Los peces en el río

Los peces en el río/ The Fishes in the River is a traditional Spanish Christmas Carol that is popular in Spain and Latin America alike. It is about how the fish in the river keep returning to where Mary is so they can see God being born. This is the songs estribillo/ chorus in Spanish and English.

Pero mira cómo beben, los peces en el río.
Pero mira cómo beben, por ver a Dios nacido.
Beben y beben, y vuelven a beber.
Los peces en el río, por ver a Dios nacer.

But look how the fish in the river drink.
But look how they drink in order to see the God who is born.
They drink and they drink and they return to drink,
The fish in the river to see God being born.
*El Burro y el Pavo/ The Donkey and the Turkey

El Pavo Y El Burro

El Pavo Y El Burro is a traditional children’s song Merengue style. It is the story of a turkey that lies around all year getting fat, making fun of the hard-working burro. Then Christmas comes. The turkey will be stuck like a pig. As the chorus says interpreted roughly” To all fat pigs Christmas Eve will arrive”

Listen to Bonny Cepeda “El Burro y El Pavo” MP3

Había una vez, según dice el cuento
Un pavo de granja, que vivía del cuento
Siempre se burlaba, de un burro que había
Trabajando siempre, de noche y de día.

(Chorus/ Estribillo)

El burro lloraba, el pavo reía. El burro lloraba, el pavo reía.
El burro lloraba, el pavo reía. El burro lloraba, el pavo reía.

Fue en un mes de mayo,
que el pavo llegó a la granja.
Y desde ese día el burrito no tuvo calma
El pavo sentado, riendo y gozaba
Diciéndole al burro, ¡Trabaja, trabaja!

(Chorus/ Estribillo)

Pasaron los meses–junio, julio y agosto
Y el pobre animal, volviéndose loco.
Septiembre y octubre, y luego noviembre
Y sufriendo así, le llegó diciembre.

(Chorus/ Estribillo)

Y faltando un día, para una gran fiesta
Llevaron el burro, a comprar la cena
Y al volver el burro, el pavo miró
Que no trajo carne, y le preguntó.

¿Donde está la carne que yo no la veo.
¿Donde está la carne… Donde está la carne?
¿Donde está la carne, que yo no la veo.
¿Donde está la carne… Donde está la carne?

El pavo nervioso, vuelve y preguntó
¿Donde está la carne? No la veo yo.
Y el burro riendo, con todos los dientes
Le responde al pavo, !Llegó tu diciembre!

El pavo lloraba, el burro reía. El pavo lloraba, el burro reía.
El pavo lloraba, el burro reía. El pavo lloraba, el burro reía.

El pavo lloraba, el burro reía. El pavo lloraba, el burro reía.
El pavo lloraba, el burro reía. El pavo lloraba, el burro reía.

For the complete lyrics and more Christmas songs along with their translations go to:
Spanish About.com, Villancicos de Navidad a las Arandelas, and Silvita Blanco – Villacicos de Navidad.

Continue Christmas Food

ColonialZone-DR.com, The Dominican Gringa Blog and Teli, The Dominican Dog have a video Christmas card for you. Felix Navidad.

James Logan Journey 1838

Notes of a journey through Canada, USA, and the West Indies.

By James Logan, advocate, of Edinburgh.
Created/Published: Edinburgh [etc.] Fraser and co., 1838.
Digital ID: lhbtn 26860 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gdc/lhbtn.26860

These are excerpts taken from this document of the notes that were written about Santo Domingo. It is so interesting to read the views of the writer at this time. It seems that Port-a-Prince (Haiti) was the largest town on the island at this time and much more cosmopolitan. (To read the entire 259 page document refer to the link above.)

(page 217)
On our coming in sight of St Domingo, a gentleman, a Mr P., on board the schooner, who had been resident some time there engaged in mercantile pursuits, gave me the following account of it:–This island, now the centre towards which all the eyes of Europe are turned, as developing the working of a republic of black population, has not come up to the expectations of the speculator on the system of precipitate emancipation. The Negroes of St Domingo or Hayti, about forty years ago, expelled their masters, the French and Spaniards, from the island, and after several leaders had ruled different divisions, and been successively put down, one of them, Christophe, a Negro from an English island, and who had been a servant in the town of Cape Hayti, governed for several years the northern division of the island, of which Cape Hayti is the capital.

(page 218) At one time the most productive island in the West Indies, it is now amongst the least, though the population is considerably increased. No reasonable man sends his coat to the carpenter to be mended; he knows that a carpenter is not a tailor, his trade is quite distinct; before the carpenter can profess the trade of a tailor, he must serve an apprenticeship to the latter, that he may be fitted for the trade, Again, boys and girls are not fitted for the work of, men and women, they require experience and practice; and is not the Negro’s an analogous case? Unmercifully torn from his home and friends, treated like a dog, generally compelled to a labour he never before heard of, to

(page 219) adopt customs and views totally foreign to his nature, is it to be supposed that he works willingly, or that he has any desire to learn? It can only be time that will modify his mind and practice, and bend him to his situation, and, combined with other causes, may ultimately stimulate him to exertion for himself. To set him free at once, is analogous to opening the door of a prison to let loose the hundred criminals, who, as experience has shown us, generally return to their old habits. Here lie the difficulties even the rulers of this republic have to contend with; and what have the other islands not to contend with?

West Indies Map-James Logan Journey

St Domingo is, in point of size, next to Cuba, and is very mountainous. The plains are fertile, and have yielded abundant crops of sugar, coffee, rice, tobacco, &c. The northern parts of the island are most healthy, being exposed to more regular sea breezes from the Atlantic, which in winter are sometimes so cold as to render a fire necessary. The principal produce of the island for exportation is coffee, cotton, tobacco, and cigars, to which may be added mahogany and logwood. Rice, which, in the time of the French, formed one of the principal articles of export, is now largely imported for the use of the inhabitants, and in 1836 very considerable quantities of East India rice were even imported from Liverpool. Although at one time as much sugar was made here as on all the other West India islands together, now barely sufficient for their own use is raised. The imports consist principally of British, German, and French linens, (page 220) cottons, cloth, silk, and hardware and cutlery, with American flour, salt fish, and lumber.

The population is supposed to be about 700,000, seven-tenths of whom are entirely black. The French language is used in all the legislative proceedings, though Spanish is the prevalent language in that part of the island formerly called Hispaniola.

Port-au-Prince is said to be the most populous town in the island, having nearly 22,000 inhabitants, and at which a great proportion of the foreign trade of the island is carried on. Here the President Boyer resides. The town has a pretty appearance from the harbour, but is very irregularly built, the houses of wood principally, though some of the merchants have both stores and houses of brick. These materials are better suited to the climate, there being less expense and danger to be apprehended from earthquakes, shocks of which are of frequent occurrence, and sometimes very injurious to property. The town is situated in the beautiful bay of the same name on the west side of the island.

The story continues on…..
Taken from the Library of Congress – American Memory

Y and Z-Dominican Food Dictionary

The Food of Dominican Republic / La Comida de República Dominicana




– (pronounced like Jew-ca) Cassave or cassava, a long tuber vegetable. Also known as yucca. More information about Yuca.

Wax covered yuca.
Wax covered yuca.


(frió frió) – Snow cone. Shaved ice with flavored liquid that is usually homemade local fruit flavors. More information about frió frió and yunyun here. or



– Carrots


– Tangy yet sweet fruit. It has a dull brown skin with sticky orange flesh and lots of fiber. This fruit makes a wonderful juice drink.

Zapote and Batida de Zapote
Zapote and Batida de Zapote