A truly musical time of year, it’s difficult for many Latinos to remember a Christmas where Raphael, Juan Gabriel or Juanes weren’t intertwined with Frank Sinatra, Gregory Porter or Bing Crosby. While steeped in a religious tradition where friends, family and even strangers gather together in song to rejoice in the Christmas season, Navidad is a time for dancing and singing along to all sorts of music into the wee hours of the morning. The best Spanish Christmas songs hold their own against their better-known English-language counterparts, as the Navidad playlist shows.
Listen to the Navidad playlist right now, and scroll down for Top 10 best Spanish Christmas songs.
Gwen Stefani: ‘Feliz Navidad’
There’s no song more synonymous with Navidad than, well, ‘Feliz Navidad’. First popularised by José Feliciano in the 70s, Gwen Stefani’s 2018 update to the iconic Christmas pop song is here to bring you a “prosper año y Felicidad” in both English and Español.
Raphael: ‘Navidad, Navidad’
Best described as the Spanish Tony Bennet, actor-singer Raphael is a mainstay in Latin music. His swinging version of ‘Jingle Bells’ is destined to get anyone in the mood for the season, even if you only speak Spanish un poquito.
Paty Cantú: ‘Santa, Te Espero A Las 10’
There is no doubt you will instantly recognise this Christmas classic originally made famous by Eartha Kitt. With lyrics appropriated for Spanish-language speakers, Guadalajara’s (and half of Mexican pop duo Lu’s) Paty Cantú modernises the 50s classic for today.
Juan Gabriel: ‘24 De Diciembre’
While much of the Anglo world knows little about Mexico’s biggest pop export of all time, the late, great Juan Gabriel is not only celebrated for his contributions as a prolific songwriter and composer in Latin America, but he is also remembered for recording one of the best Spanish Christmas songs of all time, ‘24 De Diciembre’. A modern classic, it will have you thinking it is five o’clock somewhere, while sipping margaritas on the playa this season.
Sebastián Yatra: ‘Te Regalo’
Columbian heartthrob and breakout star Sebastián Yatra released this single, whose title translates as ‘I Gift You’, in 2016. Nominated for the Latin Grammys in 2017 and 2018, Yatra’s catchy pop song is likely to become Latin America’s answer to Justin Bieber’s ‘Mistletoe’ in years to come.
Celia Cruz Y La Sonora Matancera: ‘Capricho Navideño’
Hailing from Havana, Cuba, Celia Cruz originally recorded this cantabile, tropical song for Navidad with La Sonora Matancera, an Afro-Cuban musical group that carried Cuba from the rise of Cuban tourism in the 20s through to the Cuban Revolution of the 60s. The group’s decision to leave Cuba during this tumultuous time gave way to their greater success with Cruz, helping her to later claim her throne as the Queen Of Salsa.
Andrea Bocelli: ‘Noche De Paz’
The universally-adored, multi-lingual Andrea Bocelli often makes his music accessible to Latin America, and his Spanish-language versions of Christmas classics are some of the very best Spanish Christmas songs out there. There is no song more fitting for those who celebrate Navidad than this version of ‘Silent Night’, further reminding many in Latin America about the reason for the season.
Juanes: ‘El Burrito De Belén’
A very popular children’s Christmas song from Venezuela, ‘The Little Donkey From Bethlehem’ is about a little boy’s journey to see Jesus in the manger. Already a fun song to sing along to, Juanes makes it even more enjoyable for Navidad.
Ariel Ramirez, Los Fronterizos, Jesús Gabriel Segade: ‘Gloria (Carnavarlito-Yaravi)’
Anyone who has spent any time at a Misa De Gallo, or a Spanish-language midnight mass, has heard ‘La Misa Criolla’ more than a few times. Not to be deceived by its uptempo start and finish, the drawn-out chord progression underscoring a prayer is a welcome alternative to many of the traditional hymns celebrated year after year in the Anglo world.
Mijares: ‘Adeste Fideles’
Whether or not you speak Spanish, this synth-driven version of the traditional Christmas hymn from the 80s channels a time where big hair and even bigger shoulder pads were in vogue. Fun fact: Mijares’ popularity has extended far beyond Latin America. In 2000, he was selected to perform three songs by Elton John in Spanish for the film El Dorado. He was also tapped by Disney to perform the Spanish-language soundtrack for Oliver & Company.
Follow the Christmas playlist for the best Christmas songs of all time.