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A Playlist of Clásicos Navideños

The fact that we share a body of songs that are especially played to enliven the holiday festivities tells plenty about the role of music in our cultural context and the strong ties between music and people, cultural values and identity.

Our repertorio navideño is filled with a distinctive musical language, one that invites the listener to celebrate with friends and family, share a meal, dance, sing and play instruments. Popular choruses  such as “Agarra el cuatro y el güiro que ya es tiempo de fiestar” and “Con güiro y pandereta” are just examples of the participatory character inherent to canciones navideñas.

“Musical sounds are a powerful human resource, often at the heart of our most profound social occasions and experiences.” –Thomas Turino

Although many of these songs convey a message of joy, happiness and non-stop party, there are also devotional, nostalgic, inspiring or plainly sad songs. These songs carry emotions, take us places, remind us of loved ones and bring memories from those that are not around anymore.

Listening to our canciones navideñas or participating of their performance through singing, playing or dancing, create a unique process of individual and social integration. Ultimately these songs that we hear en navidad contribute to the definition of who we are and also collect the character of Puerto Rican traditions.

Our songs belong to our cultural patrimony. Let’s listen and enjoy them together, they express our most intrinsic social values. Share your favorite tunes via Facebook and Twitter! I’m including here a small sample of canciones de navidad to get the parranda started.

Essential Playlist

Cheo Feliciano—Mapeyé

Richie Ray and Bobby CruzBomba en navidad

Ismael Rivera—Una tarjeta postal

Willie Colón and Hector LaVoe—Esta navidad

Felipe Rodriguez "La Voz"—Los reyes no llegaron

Vicente Carattini y Los cantores de San Juan—Caminan las nubes

Flor Morales Ramos "Ramito"—Aires Navideños

Felipe Roríguez "La Voz" and Pedro Ortiz "Davilita"—La Rosa Blanca

Trio Vegabajeño—Cantares de navidad

Grupo Mapeye—Los Magos de Oriente

Ernestina Reyes "La Calandria"—Brisas navideñas

Sonora Ponceña—Aguinaldo Antillano

Rafael Hernández y el Cuarteto Victoria—Campanitas de Cristal

Jesús Sánchez "Chuito el de Bayamón"—Los Tres Santos Reyes

Emilio Quiñones—Plena Navideña

Mon Rivera—Una plena en Navidad con Mon Rivera

José Feliciano—Feliz navidad

Félix del Rosario—Candela

© Center for Puerto Rican Studies. Publsihed in Centro Voices on 17 December 2014.