Sleighbells, a charming melody, lyrics that talk about hope, happiness, union… Through them, we experience the sound of Christmas. Christmas songs are almost all cut by the same pattern. Yet, we enjoy them every year, as they set the spirit and the environment for the holidays. But, has it ever crossed your mind how Christmas sounds in other countries?
The general idea is the same, especially the themes, and many of those tunes share the same sounds we relate to Christmas. Keep reading to find a huge variety of Christmas music to add to your festive playlists!
From France, we have “Le Bonhomme de Neige”, and some other songs whose melodies you may find familiar, as they are translations of popular Christmas songs that also exist in English, like “Vive le Vent”, or “Douce Nuit”. Undoubtedly, one of the most popular is “Petit Papa Noël”. In this French song, a little child talks about how he is preparing for Santa Claus’s presents.
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Poland’s traditional carols are many, as the country has a widespread custom of carolling. Some of them are “Lulajże Jezuniu”, “Przybieżeli do Betlejem”, and “Dzisiaj W Betlejem”. The latter is a description of the birth of Jesus as we know it from the Bible. Its literal translation is “today in Bethlehem”.
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“Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle” which means “you come down from the stars”, is an Italian carol about the arrival of baby Jesus. This one is considered one of the most ancient carols in the world, and it is the most famous among the Italians. Other Italian songs are “A Natale Puoi”, and “Caro Gesù Bambino”.
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Another song dedicated to Jesus’s birth, but sang in Yoruba, is this Nigerian carol called “Betelehemu”. Even though it comes from Nigeria, apparently it is more popular outside the country, and it is a favourite to sing for many choirs around the globe at Christmas time.
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The Spanish holidays would not be the same without the classics “Fum, Fum, Fum”, “La Marimorena”, “Campana Sobre Campana”, or “Los Peces en el Río”. There is a peculiarity to Spanish carols: there are normal versions of them, but also another type that is known as villancicos rocieros. The latter combine Christmas sounds with the traditional Spanish sounds of flamenco, and you can find the same carols performed in both versions.
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It could not be an article about Christmas carols without mentioning Germany, as this country’s celebration of Christmas is widely known. “Nun sei Willkommen Herre Christ”, “Leise Rieselt der Schnee”, or “Oh, Du Fröhliche” are some examples of how Germany sounds at Christmas time. “Oh, Du Fröhliche”, meaning “oh, you joyful”, is also about the Nativity. Its author dedicated it to the children he met at an orphanage not long after losing his own children to disease.
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Even though New Zealand’s first language is English, they have their own rendition of a classic carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. “A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree” is their version of it, changing the lyrics to fit the Maori culture.
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“Räven Raskar Över Isen”, “Mer Jul”, “Julen Är Här”, “Jul Igen” and many more are classic sounds of the Swedish Christmas. “Jul Igen”, for instance, is about the joy of having Christmas back again, and “Hei, Mitt Vinderland” talks about the happiness of the first day of snow!
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With so many options to explore, this year you should be covered for the whole Christmas period. So, keep investigating because this is just a small sample, and each country has so many more carols to offer!