Nochebuena is near, which means it’s time to start perfecting your festive music playlist to dance to all season long.

Yes, we’re talking about the music you play in your kitchen while cooking a Christmas lechón feast for your family, when wrapping up all your gifts to place under the tree (or to gift on Día de Los Reyes Magos), and even to just play in your sala for dancing with your abuelos.

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As you may know, Latino Christmas songs just hit different — so of course we had to make an ultimate playlist for them.

If you grew up singing “Tuki, tuki, tuki, tuki” at a moment’s notice as soon as Nochebuena was near, you surely know what we’re talking about. Latino Navidad just isn’t the same without classics like “El Burrito Sabanero” and “Los Peces En El Río,” connecting us back our childhood waiting for Santa Clo’ to gift us that cocinita we wanted.

And while we may include good ol’ tracks like “Santa Baby” and “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” in our holiday playlist, our favorite Navidad hits from our culture really make the difference. Ahead, find some of most timeless, go-to Latino Christmas songs to play in your sala right now.

1. “Los Peces En El Río” by Pandora


Respuesta a @albal30 Quevedo x Wisin – Los Peces En El Río (IA) #aicover #iacover #reggaeton #humor #quevedo #wisin #navidad Quevedo peces en el río. Los peces en el Río IA. Wisin peces en el río. Navidad.

♬ Los Peces En El Río Quevedo x Wisin ÁlvaroParras – Álvaro Parras

We’re starting with classic Christmas villancico “Los Peces En El Río,” which originated in Spain and is thought to have Arab influences.

As is typical in villancicos, which are centuries-old Christmas carols sung around Spain and Latin America, “Los Peces En El Río” is rooted in Christianity. And while the original author is unknown, we know that the timeless song describes joy at the birth of Jesus Christ. Lyrics like, “Look at how the fishes in the river drink, but look how they drink in order to see God born,” may symbolize Jesúcristo’s followers celebrating his arrival to the world. And even though lyrics like, “The Virgin washes diapers and hangs them on the rosemary,” might seem simple, the “rosemary” may actually represent immortality and rebirth.

We love the 1986 version by Mexican female band Pandora that you’ve surely heard in your family’s fiestas Navideñas. One other notable version, though? The TikTok-viral AI creation using Quevedo and Wisin‘s vocal styles. Epic.

Listen to “Los Peces En El Río” by Pandora on Spotify.

2. “El Burrito Sabanero” by La Rondallita

Next stop? Another one of our unmissable Latino Christmas songs, “El Burrito Sabanero” by La Rondallita. And while you might already be singing its iconic “Tuki, tuki, tuki, tuki” in your head, do you know the song’s fascinating origin story? Venezuelan composer Hugo Blanco wrote the hit in 1972, choosing folk singer compatriota Simon Díaz to record it as “El Burro de Belén.” However, in 1976, Blanco got the idea for children to record it instead, bringing in 14 child singers from the Coro Infantil Venezuela and calling the new group La Rondallita. As you may know, the new recording was a massive, timeless hit.

“El Burrito Sabanero” includes lyrics like, “I’m on my way to Bethlehem with my little donkey” and “I’m singing with my cuatro [instrument], my donkey keeps walking,” which represents someone riding their donkey to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ.

Although one of the child singers in the recording, Ricardo Cuenci, told BBC he never received royalties, he still described feeling “fulfilled by every child in the world that listens to the song and is filled with happiness.”

Listen to “El Burrito Sabanero” by La Rondallita on Spotify.

3. “Feliz Navidad” by José Feliciano

Puerto Rican singer-songwriter José Feliciano gifted us his “Feliz Navidad” masterpiece in 1970, and Nochebuena hasn’t been the same since. Originally released as part of his Christmas album, “Feliz Navidad,” the massive hit initially accompanied cover songs like “Jingle Bells” and “Silent Night.” However, the half-Spanish, half-English “Feliz Navidad” resonated the most, becoming a bilingual classic that brought in strums from a cuatro instrument. Still topping the charts every time Christmas roll around, the song features straightforward, very-singable lyrics like “Feliz Navidad, próspero año y felicidad” and “I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas.”

And while the lyrics may be simple, they have a lot of heart. Feliciano once described the song’s writing process to NPR: “It was expressing the joy that I felt on Christmas and the fact that I felt very lonely. I missed my family.”

Listen to “Feliz Navidad” by José Feliciano on Spotify.

4. “Ven A Mi Casa Esta Navidad” by Fuerza Regida

Did you know that Fuerza Regida has a Christmas album? Well, if you didn’t know, consider this our gift to you— ¡Feliz Navidad! In all seriousness, though, their 2020 festive album, “Navidad Con La Regida,” is an instant classic, giving us Jesús Ortiz Paz’s voice on traditional tunes like “Burrito Sabanero” and the classic Los Bukis go-to, “Navidad Sin Ti.” We recommend you checking out Fuerza Regida’s entire Christmas “popurri” performance, which shows the Regional Mexican band vocalizing, strumming their guitars, and playing the sousaphone around a Christmas tree while wearing festive sweaters.

While the entire 11-minute holiday mash-up is perfect to play during your Christmas parties, we especially love their version of classic 1973 villancico “Ven A Mi Casa Esta Navidad” by Luis Aguilé. With lyrics like, “You, who are far from your friends, your country, and your home… Come to my house this Christmas,” the track represents the true meaning of the season.

Listen to “Ven A Mi Casa Esta Navidad” by Fuerza Regida on Spotify.

5. “24 de Diciembre” by Juan Gabriel

Is it a timeless Latino Christmas song playlist without “24 de Diciembre” by El Divo de Juárez himself? We don’t think so. Released in 1996 as part of Juan Gabriel‘s “25 Aniversario 1971-1996” collection album, “24 de Diciembre” is an upbeat song about being in love on Christmas. The lyrics, penned by Juan Gabriel, describe with romanticism: “Every night that I’m with you seems like the first night… Every [December] 24, I say, ‘I was so lucky to find love.'”

This is a song to belt out while cheering with ponche crema, watching your grandparents non-ironically sing it to each other with love. Speaking about how “One December 24, you revived my heart,” this song is joyous, romantic, and everything that we treasure Navidad for. Also, it probably sends you major flashbacks to your childhood sleeping on two chairs in the family party, so there’s that!

Listen to “24 de Diciembre” by Juan Gabriel on Spotify.

6. “Blanca Navidad” by Kenia Os

We’re loving Mexican singer Kenia Os‘s pop-tinged version of “Blanca Navidad,” otherwise known as the Spanish version of Christmas carol “White Christmas.” Interestingly, “White Christmas” was written by American composer Irving Berlin in 1940 while staying at La Quinta Hotel in La Quinta, California or the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona (it’s a subject of much-debate). Either way, it was warm… which makes sense why Berlin was “dreaming of a white Christmas” with powdery snow.

The Spanish version of the villancico, titled “Blanca Navidad,” has brought us tons of beautiful covers from artists like Luis Miguel, Matisse, and more. With lyrics like, “Oh, white Christmas, I dream with the snow around me… It’s a message of peace and pure love,” the Spanish adaptation might be even more profound. Plus, Kenia Os’s cover, recorded especially for Spotify Singles Holiday, is cozy with glimmering notes on a synth— A.K.A., perfect for playing at your Christmas dinner.

Listen to “Blanca Navidad” by Kenia OS on Spotify.

7. “Santa Claus Llegó A La Ciudad” by Luis Miguel

When Christmastime is upon us, does anyone else go straight to that treasured 2006 Luis Miguel holiday album, “Navidades”? The album will always be fire, bringing in big-band, jazzy influences, tons of brass instrumentation, and snowy, Christmas-y glamour. Bringing in Frank Sinatra vibes, Luis Miguel recorded tons of classic carols, changing them into Spanish. For example, “Jingle Bells” turned into “Navidad, Navidad,” and “Let It Snow” became “Va A Nevar.” This is the album to play when you’re hosting a glam Secret Santa at home, or welcoming in family with fir-scented candles lit and some pavo or puerco in the oven (with some buñuelos for later).

We especially love one of the album’s most famous songs, “Santa Claus Llegó A La Ciudad,” the Mexican singer’s answer to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” The music video recalls the 1940s and 50s, bringing in showgirls, an orchestra, and tons of glamorous outfits. Plus, with slightly different lyrics like, “Santa Claus arrived to the city,” this is a fun song to add to your Navidad repertoire.

Listen to “Santa Claus Llegó A La Ciudad” by Luis Miguel on Spotify.

8. “Aires de Navidad” by Héctor Lavoe, Willie Colón, Yomo Toro

Next up, we have this gem of a song thanks to Willie Colón and Héctor Lavoe‘s 1970 joint holiday album, “Asalto Navideño,” otherwise known as the best Christmas album of all time. The salsa creation was released in 1970 and 1973 in two parts, and as per Fania, Puerto Rican Christmas parties aren’t complete without playing it from start to finish. This “groundbreaking” work is a perfect meet-up between Boricua salseros Colón and Lavoe, who greatly contributed to New York City’s salsa boom throughout the 1970s.

The two brought in cuatro player Yomo Toro, plus other iconic musicians to put new spins on Caribbean Navidad classics. Jazz, salsa, merengue, and guaguancó come together to get everyone dancing, especially in major rhythmic hits like “Esta Navidad.” However, “Aires de Navidad” might be even more iconic, starting with one of the hair-raising first lines, “We want to wish you, with devotion, a happy New Year from Willie Colón’s orchestra.”

The song continues its fun, festive tone with lyrics like, “Christmas is coming, and it’s going to make everyone happy.” You can’t miss this song (or entire album) on your classic Navidad playlist!

Listen to “Aires de Navidad” by Héctor Lavoe, Willie Colón, Yomo Toro on Spotify.

9. “El Niño del Tambor” by Carla Morrison

As one X user so aptly put it, take this as your annual “friendly reminder” that Mexican singer-songwriter Carla Morrison has a Christmas album. And yes, this is a public service announcement. The indie-pop singer, who is known for hits like “Eres Tú,” released a holiday EP titled “La Niña del Tambor” back in 2016, and we’re still not over it. Bringing in both Spanish and English versions of iconic Christmas carols such as “Noche de Paz” (“Silent Night”), the album is a cozy, soothing gift to anyone looking to get in the holiday spirit. Morrison’s voice is perfectly suited for the jazzy versions of the carols, and goes quite well with sipping hot chocolate or champurrado.

We especially love the album’s song “El Niño del Tambor,” a Spanish version of “The Little Drummer Boy,” which is grounded in modernity with a kick drum and other percussion. It’s perfect.

Listen to “El Niño del Tambor” by Carla Morrison on Spotify.

10. “5 Pa’ Las 12” by Camilo

Last up, we had to include iconic holiday track “Cinco Pa’ Las Doce,” originally penned by Venezuelan composer Oswaldo Oropeza. As the story goes, in 1963, Oropeza asked Venezuelan actor-singer Nestor Zavarce to record his festive composition. Zavarce was a “one-hit wonder” at the time, so no one expected “Cinco Pa’ Las Doce” to become such a widespread success story. Today, the song is often played by Latino families on New Year’s Eve (even though many people play it on Christmas, too), because of lyrics like, “The church bells are ringing, announcing that the old year is leaving” and “The happiness of the new year is coming.”

Speaking about the symbols in the song, Zavarce once explained to RCN that the “church bells” represent faith, and the “hugs” in the song’s lyrics symbolize solidarity. As far as Latino Christmas songs go, you can play “Cinco Pa’ Las Doce” all season long. And while we love Oropeza’s classic version, we also love Colombian singer-songwriter Camilo‘s interpretation with a cuatro and light percussion.

Listen to “5 Pa’ Las 12” by Camilo on Spotify.