I have always been a great fan of the villancicos, Christmas carols, they always bring great memories of my childhood in Northern Spain. We used to sing them at school and my friends and I went door to door singing to get some Aguinaldo (free sweets and candy given out after the performance). Perhaps they didn't always give us sweets because of our good singing...I also remember to sing villancicos at home, after the big supper on the 24th when my grandparents came for the holidays and they always wanted to do a bit of traditional singing.
Some teachers told me that it would not be a good idea to sing villancicos with high school students. If I were in a bilingual program in Spain, I would love to learn some Christmas carols in English in high school. However, the carols help students to learn about Christmas's traditions in Spanish-speaking countries. Moreover, they can help students to improve their command in Spanish. Students can also do some research about what a villancico was in the past: traditionally it was a type of strophe used by poets to write songs not necessarily related to Christmas or religion. It was quite recently when villancico became associated to songs to celebrate Christmas. Students can also find some traditional villancicos and decide which ones they prefer.
It is not difficult to find most of the traditional carols on the web as well as those composed by renown musicians. These are links where we can listen to a good selection of villancicos.
- Los villancicos más populares with a great selection of traditional villancicos from Spain.
- Villancicos 2013, a great selection from Colombia that also includes the lyrics.
- Navidad y Villancicos, another great collection.
Campana sobre Campana
¡Ay del Chiquirritín!
If we are very musical we can download some music sheets and organize a concert with our students. Or we can use a karaoke to do a more practical approach.
The villancicos are great tools to learn about Christmas, one of the most rooted traditions in Spanish-speaking countries. Moreover, they can help students to enjoy lyrics and singing, improve their pronunciation and their sense of rhythm and gain confidence when using Spanish, especially if we organize a small performance for the rest of the school. It is a bit later for this year but we still can sing some villancicos dedicated to the Three Wise Men on January the sixth.