Christmas is an important holiday in Latin America. It represents the birth of Jesus Christ, a religious figure that is celebrated by Christians around the world.
For many Latin Americans, Christmas is a time of joy and celebration with family and friends. During this season, it is tradition to exchange gifts, prepare traditional meals, decorate homes, and celebrate for many days leading up to and following Christmas Day. Christmas also allows people to reflect on the year gone by—to take stock of accomplishments, failures, and renewed hope for the year ahead. Latin American Christmas is a culturally rich holiday for these reasons and more.
Christmas Traditions in Latin America and Spain Class Activities and Resources
- Christmas in Latin America and Spain – Navidad Lesson Plan – It begins with an image-text inference activity to learn Christmas vocabulary in Spanish. Then, the students will learn Christmas traditions from Spain with a presentation and authentic videos. Students talk about their own Christmas traditions and research some traditions from Latin America. Finally, they play 3 group games to practice the vocabulary orally.
- Christmas Reading and Listening Comprehension Activity – Students learn about different Christmas traditions from México, Puerto Rico, and Spain, and answer the reading comprehension questions. They will learn new vocabulary in context highlighted in the reading and watch videos about some traditions mentioned.
- Las posadas mexicanas (México) Cultural Presentation and Activities – In Spanish and English. Christmas posadas are an important part of Christmas celebration in Mexico. They are nine-day religious processions, beginning on December 16th and running through midnight between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. During these processions, the participants reenact the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of a place to stay before Jesus was born. Everyone joins in, singing traditional Christmas carols called Villancicos and asking for lodging at different homes throughout the town or neighborhood. At the end of each procession, a party is held with refreshments such as hot chocolate and tamales.
- El Gordo: La lotería de Navidad (España) Cultural Presentation and Activities – In Spanish and English. El Gordo de Navidad (which translates to The Big One of Christmas) is a Spanish lottery game that is held yearly on December 22. It is organized by the Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad (Extraordinary Christmas Draw).
- El cagatió (España) Cultural Presentation and Activities – In Spanish and English. Caga Tio is a popular Catalonian Christmas tradition. On Christmas Eve, the figure of Caga Tio, who looks like a small log with a face painted on him, is placed under the Christmas tree. Later in the evening, children sing traditional songs around it and then hit it with sticks to get presents out of it. The presents usually include small toys or sweets.
- Las parrandas puertorriqueñas (Puerto Rico) Cultural Presentation and Activities – In Spanish and English. Christmas parrandas or asaltos in Puerto Rico are an age-old tradition that is still celebrated today. During the parranda, a group of people will travel unannounced during the night from house to house singing traditional Puerto Rican Christmas songs.
- La Noche de las Velitas (Colombia) Cultural Presentation and Activities – In Spanish and English. La Noche de las Velitas, also known as Día de la Inmaculada (Day of the Immaculate Conception), is a traditional celebration in Colombia that marks the beginning of the Christmas season. On this night, people light candles or velitas (small paper lanterns) to honor the Virgin Mary.
- The Hit Parade of 17 Christmas Songs in Spanish from Puerto Rico – This list is what I call the “hit parade” of songs that you will surely hear in any parranda and every Puerto Rican knows them by heart.
- 9 Musical Instruments Used in Puerto Rican Parrandas – Parrandas can be as simple as a crowd of people playing only percussion instruments or can be a professional musical production with trumpets, guitars, and Puerto Rican cuatros. These are the most common musical instruments that anybody can play in a parranda.
- Navidad en febrero y con un Dios negro – Familias y comunidades – Costumbres y valores – Colombia (Afro-Latinos) – With these reading comprehension and cultural comparison activities, students learn about a town in Colombia that celebrates Christmas in February and with a black Baby Jesus to keep a tradition adopted by their slavery ancestors, who were denied celebrating Christmas on December 25.
Christmas Spanish Vocabulary Builder Activities
- Christmas Vocabulary Presentation with Audio – A total of 27 vocabulary words or phrases are featured in this presentation. A native Spanish speaker pronounces each word or phrase.
- Christmas Spanish Vocabulary List Handout – Printable handout with an expanded list of 32 bilingual vocabulary words.
- Christmas Spanish Vocabulary Illustrated Handout – Illustrated handout featuring 25 Christmas Spanish vocabulary words.
- Christmas Spanish Vocabulary Printable Posters – Printable poster in 3 sizes that illustrate many of the most important vocabulary words.
- Christmas Spanish Vocabulary Crossword Puzzle – English to Spanish translation crossword puzzle where your students translate the English word to fill in the crossword with the correct Spanish word. Includes answer key.
- Christmas Spanish Vocabulary Word Search – Word search in two versions: with Spanish word list and with an English word list to translate. Includes answer key.
- Christmas Spanish Vocabulary Word Jumble – Word jumble activity where your students (individually or in a small group) write the letters of a word in the correct order. Includes answer key.
- Christmas Spanish Vocabulary A/B Oral Activity – A/B Oral Activity to practice the verb tener in pairs of students.
- Christmas – Spanish Names for Santa Claus Printable Poster – This printable poster shows the diversity of the Spanish language by featuring four Spanish names for Santa Claus used in several countries, specially created for Spanish teachers to decorate the classroom.
Christmas Songs in Spanish Activities: Villancicos de Navidad
We have created 31 class activities around these Christmas songs in Spanish (villancicos). Silent Night… White Christmas… Little Drummer oy… Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer… The Twelve Days of Christmas… Jingle Bells…
Your students have heard or sung all these Christmas Carols before. Now it is time that they sing them in Spanish!
Did you know that your students can practice the ordinal numbers in Spanish with Doce días de Navidad (The Twelve Days of Christmas)? Rodolfo el reno (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) is a good and quick practice for the present and the imperfect!
Other songs are great to introduce vocabulary for the family, Winter, and the Nativity scene.
- SONG AND BINGO GAME: Nativity Scene Bingo Game and Activities with El Tamborilero and Noche de Paz – This printable bingo game illustrates the vocabulary of the most essential elements of a Nativity scene like Baby Jesus, Virgin Mary, and the Three Kings.
- Christmas Song 12 Dias de Navidad – Ordinal and Cardinal Numbers [PACK] – Spanish Class Activities with The Twelve Days of Christmas in Spanish (12 días de Navidad). Students practice cardinal and ordinal numbers.
- Christmas Song Rodolfo el reno – Preterite and Imperfect [PACK] – Spanish Class Activities with Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas song in Spanish (Rodolfo el reno). Students practice the preterite and imperfect.
- Christmas Song Blanca Navidad – Winter Vocabulary and Definite Articles [PACK] – Spanish song activities to practice Winter vocabulary with the Christmas song in Spanish, White Christmas (Blanca Navidad).
- Christmas Song Cascabel – Family Vocabulary, Present and Preterite [PACK] – Spanish class activities to practice the present, preterite, and basic family vocabulary with Jingle Bells (Cascabel), the Christmas song in Spanish.
- Christmas Song El Tamborilero and Noche de Paz – Nativity Scene Vocabulary and Bingo [PACK] – Spanish song activities to practice Nativity Scene vocabulary with Little Drummer Boy and Silent Night in Spanish (El tamborilero and Noche de paz). Includes a printable bingo game.
- Jesús Navarro ft. Maite Perroni – Esta navidad – Infinitive Verbs and Present Simple – Spanish song cloze activity that includes three versions, video link, and a short artist bio. Choose the version that is most suitable for your students’ level.
- Thalia – Rodolfo – Past and Imperfect – Spanish song cloze activity that includes three versions, video link, and a short artist bio. Choose the version that is most suitable for your students’ level.