If you happen to walk down the halls of any Spanish Schoolhouse campus in November or December, you’re likely to hear the sounds of maracas, guitars, drums, and angelic voices. You may not recognize these as the sounds of Christmas, but cultural holiday songs, dances, and Latin traditions fill our schools long before Christmas Day. Students and teachers work hard for many weeks preparing for one of the highlights of our school year – ¡El Show de Navidad!
Music and dancing are central to the celebrations of Spain and Latin America, and the Christmas season is perhaps the most festive! When families and friends gather to celebrate the holidays, weddings, birthdays, or baptisms, the festivities always include music, dancing and food. Many countries share similar rhythms and traditions, but each has its own variations that help form their proud cultural identities.
At SSH, the teachers share their countries’ customs with students, and many of these are brought to life on the stage! This is a wonderful treat for parents and guests who get to experience a holiday show with familiar tales of Santa and Christmas trees, but also some charming stories that are new to many of us.
Latin Christmas traditions are largely religious in origin. Carols are called villancicos navideños or aguinaldos, which are poetic, religious-themed melodies that can be traced back to the Middle Ages. Many of the carols describe the journey to Bethlehem and the birth of el Niño Jesús (baby Jesus).
At our shows, you’ll see dances and hear songs telling tales about the manger, angels, donkeys, and Los Tres Reyes Magos (the Three Wise Men). Others are about candles and lanterns lighting the path to Bethlehem, and bells chiming the announcement of Jesus’ birth.
You might hear a song about Mexican children carrying decorated citrus branches while caroling through their village… Or the popular carol, “Los Peces en el Rio”, about all the fish in the river who are excited about the birth of baby Jesus. Perhaps you’ll even see little Latin chefs in a musical demonstration of baking South American holiday treats!
A lot of hard work and preparation goes into our shows, but it’s a process that is thoroughly educational, cultural, and fun! The chosen songs are lively and energetic, encouraging our young dancers to move to the beat. Our little stars enjoy wearing colorful costumes from around the world, learning their places on the set, and working together as a team to put together their dances. They build confidence performing in front of their loved ones, and are proud to show off their Spanish language skills and share the traditions they’ve learned. We hope you enjoy this annual tradition as much as we do!