¡Feliz viernes a todos!
Here we are, already in December! This semester just flew right by. Before delving into winter celebrations in Latin America, I just want to quickly extend gratitude to everyone reading, whether you are here for the first time or have been following my posts this entire semester. Thank you for your readership, especially during the busy holiday season that is now upon us (Ahh!).
In the past, we have focused our December posts mostly on Las Posadas (you can find a number of our past Las Posadas posts here). This year, I am including a musical playlist to offer both a complement to our presentations of Las Posadas and also a broader view of winter celebrations in Latin America. I have a couple links to feature here that can be used in the classroom or for your own personal knowledge to aid in creating a culturally informed holiday discussion and celebration in your classroom.
The first feature is a very diverse musical playlist, which includes music from Spain, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and the United States. Feliz Navidad from Smithsonian Folkways adds rhythm to the celebration of the holidays throughout the Spanish-speaking countries of the world! Incorporating villancicos, aguinaldos, bulerias, zambas, and arrullos, this is truly a musical voyage through Christmas celebrations in Latin America. To take it a step further, I am featuring another link to a musical map, which is a great way to illustrate where each different rhythm originates. This world map is overlaid with the contents of the music from the first playlist, and in addition, playlists that collect music from holiday celebrations in other parts of the world (mainly, Africa and Eastern Europe, with various other locations, as well).
To supplement all the music we are emphasizing, we are also showcasing an NPR special on The Christmas Music of Latin America. This special, featuring Catalina Maria Johnson and David Dye, highlights the different Christmas music traditions of Latin America. One of Johnson’s key ideas in the discussion is that much of the Latin American Christmas music is made for dancing, which sets it apart from the music in other parts of the world, including the United States. We think using this NPR discussion to supplement the playlists will help educators create diverse and culturally inclusive discussions of the holidays in the classroom. Perhaps the discussions could start with the students’ favorite holiday music and some of the stories behind why those particular songs are important. The conversation could then lead into how music can bring the holiday to life, especially so in Latin America where the songs are made for dancing.
And if you do bring music into the classroom, there are two wonderful children’s books that could enhance the experience: Merry Navidad: Villancicos en español e inglés by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, and Feliz Navidad by José Feliciano.
In closing, I hope that these resources can help bring the holidays to life in your classrooms! Personal family stories and traditions are always a good way to start talking about differences in country traditions and a great way to incorporate diversity and cultural awareness into the classroom. I want to wish everyone a happy, safe, and fun-filled holiday season, and we will see you back here in the New Year!
With warmest wishes for a restful and joyous break,
Image: Photo of “Al compás del tamboril.” Reprinted from Flickr user Jimmy Baikovicius under CC ©.