Singing and listening to Christmas carols during the holiday season can help you connect with your cultural roots and heritage. Learn various Christmas songs from around the world, from France to Nigeria.
German: Leise Rieselt der Schnee
Leise rieselt der Schnee translates into English as Softly Falls the Snow. This famous German Christmas song was created in 1895 as a poem by Eduard Ebel. It uses a traditional melody to tell the story of Christkind's arrival. While this carol started as a poem by a Protestant pastor, it's still one of the popular Christmas carols in Germany today.
French: Petit Papa Noël
When it comes to famous French Christmas songs, look no further than Petit Papa Noël. Originally recorded by Tino Rossi in 1946, Petit Papa Noël, Little Father Christmas, is a child singing to Santa. While he wants presents, he worries that Santa will get cold in the night. The fame of this Christmas carol can't be denied with multiple renditions created by singers and the fact that children sing the chorus in school.
Spain: Los Peces en el Río
While popular in Spain, Los Peces en el Río (The Fish in the River) is a mysterious Christmas carol. The creation and creator of the popular tune are completely unknown, and the lyrics are a bit baffling. This is due to the fact that the song draws a comparison between a fish and the Virgin Mary. Additionally, verses are commonly added to the song, making it a bit customizable.
Philippines: Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit
A popular Christmas carol found in the Philippines, Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit, means Christmas Is Here. This poem was written by Mariano Vestil and set to music by V. Rubi. However, there has been some debate on the true composer of the melody. Regardless, this song celebrates the spirit of Christmas and love, along with the birth of Christ.
Peru: El Burrito de Belén
El Burrito de Belén, or The Little Donkey from Bethlehem, is a popular Christmas carol found around Latin America. The song was originally written in 1976 by Hugo Blanco. It tells the story of riding a donkey to Bethlehem following the light of the North Star. Created as a kid's song, the melody of the song mimics a donkey's clip.
Italy: Tu Scendi Dalla Stelle
Performed by children's choirs in Italy, Tu scendi dalla stelle (You Come Down from the Stars) was written in the 1700s by Alphonsus Liguori. This traditional hymn tells the story of Jesus and his Christmas birth in a manger. Additionally, the song was actually inspired by a Neapolitan folksong.
Australia: Jingle Bells
Many countries have molded Christmas songs to fit their culture. This is true in Australia. The famous ditty Jingle Bells has been given an Australian twist in Aussie Jingle Bells. Rather than dashing through the snow, Santa is dashing through the Bush. This song was written by Bucko & Champs in 1992.
Betelehemu is a Nigerian Christmas carol created in the 1960s by Michael Babatunde Olatunji. This Nigerian hymn praises the birth city of Jesus and is written in the Yoruba language. A choir first performed this song. To this day, it's still a popular song for choirs to perform around the holidays.
Lebanon: Talj, Talj
Talj, Talj (Snow, Snow) is a Lebanese Christmas song made popular by iconic singer Fairuz. While the mainline is "snow is falling on the world," the song tells the tale of baby Jesus's birth. While Fairez popularized the song in her rendition in the 1960s, it was a Christmas hymn before that.
China: Xuěrén Bùjiànle
Xuěrén bùjiànle is translated into The Snowman Disappeared in English. Christmas is a more recently celebrated holiday in China. Therefore, many of the Christmas songs are typically newer, including this song about the disappearing snowman. A fun song for kids, this Christmas carol tells of the snowman melting under the sunshine.
Irish: Wexford Carol
One of the most famous Irish Christmas songs is actually a traditional religious carol. While the origins of the Wexford Carol are uncertain, it originated in Wexford Co. and gained popularity in the 1800s by William Flood. Like most Christmas hymns, it sings of the birth of Christ and Mary's journey to Bethlehem. Additionally, the Wexford Carol has a place in The Oxford Book of Carols.
India: Khamosh Hai Raath
While you can find several popular Christmas carols in India, Khamosh hai raath or Silent Night is a popular one. This popular Christmas carol was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber in the 1800s and is popular around the globe. Several Hindi singers have made their own rendition of this popular hymn.
United States: We Wish You a Merry Christmas
We Wish You a Merry Christmas is a popular English Christmas carol around the United States and in the United Kingdom. The origins of the song date back to the 1800s and was made popular by Arthur Warrell. A simple Christmas tune, this song has various versions, but all work to wish blessings and happiness on families.
Christmas Songs From Around the World
The holidays are celebrated in many countries around the world. Therefore, you can find a vast collection of Christmas carols all over the globe. Expand your Christmas music collection by adding some diverse Christmas carols to the mix.