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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.

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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 además del turrón, el champán y los Reyes Magos, es montar el belén en casa.

The most traditional [thing] besides nougat candy, champagne and the Three Wise Men, 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, aguinaldo, todo eso?

And... have they given you all your statutory vacations, 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 - Part 9

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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 - Part 2

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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. 

Is there a topic you'd like covered in our lessons? You can send your suggestions to newsletter@yabla.com.

Vocabulary

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