Let's take a look at some holiday-themed videos to get in a festive mood! We'll also point out some similarities and differences between the ways in which this December//January época de fiestas (holiday season) is celebrated in the United States versus various Spanish-speaking countries.
As much of Spain and Latin America is Catholic or Protestant, most of the Spanish-speaking world celebrates la Navidad (Christmas):
Al fin y al cabo, la Navidad es una época en que los sueños se hacen realidad,
After all, Christmas is a time when dreams come true,
Caption 32, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 10 - Part 2Play Caption
That said, different Spanish-speaking countries have different ways of kicking off the Christmas season. In Colombia, it starts quite early:
Pero oficialmente celebramos la Navidad el siete de diciembre que es El día de las velitas o del alumbrado.
But we officially celebrate Christmas on December seventh, which is the Day of the Little Candles or Lighting [Day].
Captions 20-21, Cleer y Lida La Navidad en ColombiaPlay Caption
This clip is from the video La Navidad en Colombia (Christmas in Colombia), which we recommend you tune into to learn more about Colombian Christmas traditions. Las novenas is another festivity celebrated during this season in Colombia and other countries, and it marks the kickoff of Ecuador's Christmas celebrations:
Novena significa "nueve", de "nueve días". Por eso se le ora y se le canta del dieciésis de diciembre al veinticuatro.
"Novena" means "nine," from "nine days." That's why it's prayed and sung to on December sixteenth to the twenty-fourth.
Captions 29-31, Cleer y Lida La Navidad en ColombiaPlay Caption
In this clip, Cleer and Lida describe the tradition of praying to a pesebre (Nativity scene), which Ana Carolina explains more in detail in her video Símbolos de Navidad (Symbols of Christmas). Let's now move on to the Basque Country in Spain, where the La Feria de Santo Tomás inaugurates the Christmas season:
Esta feria es la que marca el inicio de la Navidad en varias ciudades del País Vasco,
This fair is the one that marks the beginning of Christmas in several cities in the Basque Country,
Captions 8-9, Viajando con Fermín La Feria de Santo TomásPlay Caption
Although people from the United States tend to celebrate el 25 de diciembre (December 25th), or Christmas, as the season's main day, el 24 de diciembre (December 24th), or la Nochebuena (Christmas Eve), is the most important day in many Latin American countries, and often the day when los regalos se intercambian (presents are exchanged):
Solo un día y sería Nochebuena. Y siempre había que hacer una compra de última hora.
Just one more day and it would be Christmas Eve. And there was always a last-minute purchase to make.
Captions 40-41, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 10 - Part 5Play Caption
On the topic of presents, many people receive presents from their families, of course, but also from other popular characters that differ from country to country. One such character is Papá Noel (Santa Claus), who is also known as Viejito Pasquero in countries like Chile. And speaking of Santa, we invite you to see this video on a jolly Santa from Venezuela:
ho ho ho, los quiero muchísimo.
ho, ho, ho, I love you guys very much.
Caption 42, Víctor en Caracas Santa ClausPlay Caption
In Colombia, it is El Niño Dios or El Niño Jesús (Baby Jesus) who leaves presents under the tree for children, whereas Spanish children receive most of their gifts after Christmas on a holiday called el Día de los Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day) on el seis de enero (January sixth).
Y... ¿qué les vas a pedir a los Reyes Magos después de Navidad?
And.... what are you going to ask the Three Wise Men for after Christmas?
Caption 56, El Aula Azul Ester y PaulaPlay Caption
Many costumbres navideñas (Christmas traditions) and símbolos (symbols) overlap in the United States and Spanish-speaking countries. These include, of course, los árboles de Navidad (Christmas trees)!
Este es mi árbol de Navidad, el símbolo más popular alrededor del mundo de esta festividad.
This is my Christmas tree, the most popular symbol of this celebration around the world.
Captions 21-22, Ana Carolina Símbolos de NavidadPlay Caption
These also include la nieve (snow)... even in the tropics (which is probably because Santa lives at el Polo Norte (the North Pole)!
Sin embargo, la nieve y los muñecos de nieve se han convertido en uno de los temas principales con los que festejamos la Navidad,
However, snow and snowmen have become one of the main themes with which we celebrate Christmas,
Captions 38-40, Ana Carolina Símbolos de NavidadPlay Caption
Charitable activities are also popular during Christmas in both North and Latin America and Spain, as Diana Quintana tells us in her video En Navidad regalamos una sonrisa (At Christmas, We Give the Gift of A Smile).
Of course, food is part of the Christmas celebration everywhere, although what is eaten varies from country to country. While many North Americans eat a meal very similar to the Thanksgiving feast for Christmas, each country gives la cena de Navidad (Christmas dinner) its own unique twist.
The same is true of traditional holiday fare, and to get a few ideas, we invite you to watch Ana Carolina make her version of eggnog, el ponche navideño (Christmas Punch), while Luis is eager to show you Venezuela's traditional Christmas pan de jamón (ham bread). You can also learn to make buñuelos, a popular Colombian holiday dessert, which Lida and Cleer prepare while singing a villancico (Christmas carol).
And, on the topic of Christmas carols, Yabla has quite a few for you, including the Spanish versions of Jingle Bells, Silent Night, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town (by none other than Luis Miguel!), as well as A la Nanita Nana and Campana sobre campana (Bell Over Bell). You might also want to check out Christmas pop hits like Estoy buscando a Santa Claus (I'm Looking for Santa Claus) and the classic Feliz Navidad (Merry Christmas) by La Oreja de Van Gogh.
While traditions like food and carols overlap, other traditions are more specific to the Spanish-speaking world, and to learn more about them, we invite you to read this lesson on Christmas Vocabulary in Spanish.
Of course, a significant portion of the Spanish-speaking world is Jewish and thus celebrates Hanukkah rather than Christmas, a holiday that shares the gift-giving tradition as well:
Y aunque no es la versión hebrea de la Navidad, los niños reciben regalos, y la comunidad celebra en hermandad.
And, although it's not the Jewish version of Christmas, the children receive gifts, and the community celebrates in brotherhood.
Captions 5-7, Días festivos HanukkahPlay Caption
To learn more about this celebration, Yabla recommends this video on the meaning behind Hanukkah.
In closing, whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or anything else, we'll leave you with the following:
¡Feliz Navidad, Felices Fiestas, Feliz Año!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year!
Caption 68, Ana Carolina Símbolos de NavidadPlay Caption
And don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments.