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.
Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz—Bomba 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.