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A Bilingual, Bicultural Christmas: 7 Songs For Your Navidad

As more and more Latinos call the U.S. their home every day, the traditions we bring from our countries remain alive, but tend to undergo a slight transition as we adopt some customs from the U.S. culture. Christmas is right around the corner, and with the help of some Latino artists I would like to show the proper way to celebrate your new found bicultural holiday with seven songs (in no particular order) that will satisfy both your gringo and Latin side!

Luis Miguel – “Santa Claus Llego A La Ciudad”

Shakira – “Santa Baby”

In  2009 Shakira joined NBC during the Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center in New York where she sung “Santa Baby.” This Christmas tune was written in 1953 by Joan Javits. You might think that this jazzy song is totally wrong for her because she does more rock and pop, but upon listening to it you realize that she hits the nail on the head with it! Her slightly deep and sultry voice is smooth, and the song truly makes you fall in love with her in a brand new way.

Christina Aguilera – “Noche De Paz”

In 2000, after releasing her all-Spanish album “Mi Reflejo,” the singer also released “Mi Clase de Navidad” an album of cover songs in Spanish. Although the only thing that changes in the song is the language, she signs it beautifully, so much so that you would never know that she actually doesn’t speak Spanish.  The original song was composed in 1818 in Austria by Franz Xaver Gruberto to lyrics by Joseph Mohr. 

Juanes – “Burrito de Belén”

Back in 2006, the Colombian rock star decided to keep it traditional for Navidad when he did a rendition of “Mi Burrito Sabanero” for the pop album “Superestrella en Navidades.” This song was first written by the Venezuelan composer Hugo Blanco and has been a staple at every Latino Christmas gathering ever since. Juanes’s version is great because it stays true to the danceable rhythm of  the song and at the same time adds just the right splash of funk with the bass guitar. Also, did you see Juanes getting his groove on?!

La Sonora Matancera with Celia Cruz – “Jingle Bells” 

In 1958, Celia Cruz y La Sonora Matancera decided it was time for “Jingle Bells” to get some much needed Cuban sazón. The tune was originally composed by American songwriter James Lord Pierpont in 1857 under the name of “One Horse Open Sleigh.” The song is done in Cuban Son style and sung in Spanish. The chorus says “I am happy, I am happy at Christmas/ Happiness I want to see at Christmas.” But of course Celia manages to get a few “jingle bells, jingle bells” in  which add a fun and even humorous flair to the Sonora’s Christmas spin.

Ricky Martin – “Ay Ay Ay It’s Christmas”

Hahahaha! Who knows what Ricky was thinking when he decided that “Ay ay ay it’s Christmas and I don’t have a gift for you/ I can give you ay ay ay/ All you need is ay ay ay” were good lyrics for a holiday song. LOL! Besides the really cheesy words, I have to say that this original tune is pretty catchy because of the infectious rhythm of the Puerto Rican Plena. Frankly you can’t go wrong with this song on the Holidays, because even if your guests don’t dance to it (highly impossible) at least you’ll get a good laugh from them.

Jose Feliciano – “Feliz Navidad”

 In 1970 José Feliciano wrote this Spanglish tune that managed to win the hearts of both Latino and American audiences. Of course, we had to add this song to the list because when it comes to bicultural celebrations this is the epitome! You might complaint about it and say that it’s overplayed, but deep down inside you love it and jam out to it every time.

Marc Anthony – “Christmas Auld Lang Syne”

The traditional “Auld Lang Syne” is a poem penned in 1788 by Scottish poet Robert Burns, which was set to a folk song and is now well known in the English-speaking world. During “Harry for the Holidays” a 2003 TV special, The Puerto Rican singer sang the original tun,e but infused it with enough rumba to set the place ablaze.

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