Spanish Lessons


Christmas Vocabulary in Spanish

Christmas is a very important celebration in all Spanish-speaking countries. In this lesson, we will review some of the essential Christmas vocabulary in Spanish.


One of the most endearing traditions for Christmas in the Hispanic world is the installation of nativity scenes at home or in public places. They are called belenes or nacimientos:


Lo más tradicional

The most traditional [thing]

además del turrón, el champán y los Reyes Magos,

besides nougat candy, champagne and the Three Wise Men,

es montar el belén en casa.

is to put up a Nativity scene at home.

Captions 2-4, Europa Abierta - Joaquín Pérez - Escultor de belenes

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Another important tradition are villancicos which are the Spanish equivalent of Christmas carols. Lida and Cleer sing for us one of the most popular villancicos, El burrito de Belén (The Little Donkey from Bethlehem) also known as "El burrito sabanero" (The Little Donkey from the Savannah):

Con mi burrito sabanero voy camino de Belén

With my little savanna donkey I'm heading to Bethlehem

Caption 42, Lida y Cleer - Buñuelos

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You may want to learn a few villancicos if you happen to be in a Spanish speaking country around Christmas. Just in case you get invited to a Posada. The word posada means "lodging" or "accommodation." traditionally, posadas are neighborhood celebrations held during the nine days preceding Christmas. They have a religious nature and involve participating in a communal re-enactment of the arrival of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem who, according to legend, had to go door-by-door pidiendo posada (asking for a place to stay). These celebrations also involve praying, sharing food, and breaking a piñata in the shape of a Christmas star. By extension, the word posada also means "Christmas party" in many Latin American countries. For example, you can get invited to la posada de la oficina (the office Christmas party) or la posada del club de ajedrez (the chess club Christmas party). 

Another important word for the Holidays is the word aguinaldo ("thirteen salary" or "Christmas bonus"):

¿Y... le han dado todos sus reglamentos de vacaciones,

And... have they given you all your statutory vacations,

aguinaldo, todo eso?

annual complementary salary, all that?

Caption 21, Doña Coco - La Vida De Una Cocinera

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Día de Reyes or día de los Reyes Magos (day of the three Wise Men) is another popular Christmas celebration in many Spanish-speaking countries. Sometimes people just call it Reyes (Kings). In Mexico this day marks the end of the so-called Guadalupe-Reyes marathon of winter festivities.

Y en los Reyes, va a venir aquí con tus niños.

And at Epiphany, she is going to come here with your children.

Caption 49, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

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Finally, there's an important distinction to make. The Spanish word for Christmas is Navidad, while the equivalent of Christmas eve is called Nochebuena (Literally, "the Good Night").

Ha pasado otra Nochebuena solo, encerrado. -No, no.

You have spent another Christmas Eve alone, locked inside. -No, no.

Captions 23-24, Muñeca Brava - 30 Revelaciones

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Nochebuena is also one of the names given to the poinsettias flowerwhich is indigenous to Mexico and it's widely used in Christmas floral displays all around the world. 

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Uses of Ya - Part 2

Uses of ya - Part 1

Let's continue studying examples of the use of the Spanish word ya.


Used emphatically, ya is equivalent to para (stop) and basta (enough):


Ya, ya, ya, para, para, para, para, para, para. -¿Ya?

Enough, enough, enough, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop. -Already?

Caption 35, Yago - 7 Encuentros

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But also to "now," "go," or "start":

A partir de este momento comienza la prueba. Ya. -¡Ya!

From this moment the test begins. Now. -Now!

Captions 39-40, Misión Chef - 2 - Pruebas

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Or something similar to "that's it":

Pues, ya.

Well, that's it.

Caption 104, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 9

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Ya is also a short answer meaning "yes," "right," "agreed." It may be the case that this use originated from common phrases like ya entiendo (I understand [already]) and  ya veo (I see [now]):

Mira que hasta en la forma de... de ejecutarlo varía mucho. -Ya.

Notice that, even the manner of... of playing it varies a lot. -Yeah.

Caption 1, Festivaliando - Mono Núñez

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Sí, ya veo.

Yes, I see.

Caption 77, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso

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Ya can also mean "since" when combined with the pronoun que:

Ya que es muy pequeña y por... tener dos océanos,

Since it is very small and due to... having two oceans,

Caption 39, World Travel Market en Londres - Maria nos habla de Guatemala

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But also "once" or "now that":

Ya que tenemos todo dentro de la licuadora,

Once we have everything inside of the blender,

Caption 26, [Bears in the Kitchen] Osos en la cocina - Carne asada

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Ya mismo  means  "right now" 


¿Está bien? -Esperando, ya mismo vamos a las castañas.

Are you OK? -Waiting, right now we're going to the chestnuts.

Caption 11, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 4

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Ya está is a common phrase meaning "it's ready" but it can also be used as "that's it":


Se pone en la caja y ya está.

It's put into the box and that's it.

Caption 86, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 16

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Llevar and Traer - Part 1

Llevar and Traer - Part 2

Llevar (to take) and traer (to bring) are very similar verbs. Both refer to the action of moving objects from one location to another. Llevar is used when an object is being taken to a place other than where the person who is talking is. On the other hand, traer is used when an object is being transported towards the speaker. It sounds pretty straightforward, right? Well, it is, but deciding when to use llevar or traer in context is sometimes tricky. That's because in many cases there is only a subtle difference of meaning between these two verbs, and because both are used in many idiomatic expressions, and, finally, because in some cases they can be used as synonyms.


So let's start with the basic difference between llevar (to take) and traer (to bring). When Luciana and Julia save Valente from being beaten to death by some thugs, Luciana says:

Ayúdame, vamos a llevarlo a mi casa.

Help me. We are going to take him to my house.

Caption 3, El Ausente - Acto 2

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But when Guillermina finds that her Grandpa has fallen into a pit, she says:

Ya sé, abuelo. Voy a traer la red de pescar para intentar subirte.

I know, Grandfather. I'm going to bring the fishing net to try to get you up.

Captions 34-35, Guillermina y Candelario - Una película de terror

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When the direction of the movement is being stated in the phrase, it's possible to use traer or llevar to express the same idea, with just a subtle difference in meaning. In the next caption, we included "traer/to bring" between parentheses so you can compare:

Trabajan duramente para llevar el producto del campo a la mesa.

They work hard to take the produce from the field to the table.

Captions 5-6, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

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Note that the only difference between the two options is the perspective from which the person is talking. With llevar, the person's perspective is from the field; with traer, the person's perspective is from the table.

You should also remember that llevar and traer are both transitive verbs, so they will always be accompanied by a direct object, or direct pronoun. If we add to that the inclusion of indirect objects or indirect pronouns, the many possible ways to combine all these elements can be a real challenge. We suggest you study the rules on how to correctly place and combine all these pronouns. You may also like to check out your conjugation tables, especially for traersince it's an irregular verb. Study these examples too:

Julio trae el dinero para Raquel. |  Julio lo trae para Raquel.  Él lo trae para Raquel. | Él se lo trae.
Julio brings the money to Raquel. Julio brings it to Raquel. He brings it to Raquel. | He brings it to her.

No olvides llevar el carro a mamá. | No olvides llevarlo a mamá. | No olvidesllevárselo. | ¡Llévaselo!
Don't forget to take the car to mom Don't forget to take it to mom. | Don't forget to take it to her. | Take it to her!

Now, for the good part: both llevar and traer are used figuratively in so many expressions that we are going to need a second part of this lesson to explore them. Let's just see a couple now.

Llevar and traer are used to express that something or someone has, contains, or wears something:

En español, todas las palabras tienen una sílaba fuerte. Y muchas de ellas llevan tilde.

In Spanish, all the words have a strong syllable. And many of them have a written accent.

Captions 50-51, Fundamentos del Español - 1 - El Alfabeto

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Me gusta llevar faldas normalmente, sobre todo en invierno.

I like to wear skirts usually, especially in winter.

Captions 6-7, El Aula Azul - Actividades Diarias

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It's also correct to say Me gusta traer faldas ("I like to wear skirts"). Check out this one:

Por eso traen pantalones.

That's why they wear pants.

Captions 47-48, El Ausente - Acto 2

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You will find llevar and traer meaning "to have" or "to contain" when talking about food or recipes:

Le pusimos una pancetita y lleva pollo.

We put in some bacon and it has chicken.

Caption 92, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

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Le quitamos la posible arenita que pueda traer.

We remove the possible bit of sand that it might have.

Caption 68, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli

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We'll stop here to leave some for Part 2. Thanks for reading!

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