Christmas time is here, and as you know I would say, Puerto Rico is the best place to be during the holidays, or if you are not in the Island, find a Boricua and I guarantee you will have the best season of your life. Today’s blog is a must-read. And if you click on the links in red, you will also listen to great Christmas music from Borinquen. Many of these songs you will hear during our Christmas season that extends until early February (yes, I wrote February!).
Christmas for Boricuas begins in November and depending on how broke and sad we are, we start earlier. This year, 2013 (because I don’t know when you are reading this post) we started early. We celebrate Thanksgiving, then Christmas, New Years, Three Kings and Octavitas, which is eight days after January 6 (Three Kings Day). If you make the math, everything should be done around January 15, but we like having longer parties; no need to rush the end of a good time. We have the longest Christmas Season in the World (just take my word for it).
And every party is better with the proper music. From décimas to Salsa and Merengue, old and new, we have them all. Here is a list of songs and a little bit of explanation to all of them.
Dame la mano paloma (Give me your hand pigeon) – If you read the title it makes no sense since pigeons have no hands, but that’s not the point. The song goes: Dame la mano paloma, para subir a tu nido, que me han dicho que estás sola y a acompañarte he venido. After that part of the song, people can add their own rhymes. For example: El día que me dijiste, que ya tú no me querías (repeat twice), hasta la perra de casa me miraba y se reía (The day you told me you did not love me anymore, even the dog looked at me and laughed). Then you go back to the chorus and so on. You will hear this in EVERY Christmas party where Boricuas are gathered.
- La bomba. The song goes: La bomba ay que rica es. Le sube el ritmo por los pies. Mulato saca tu trigueña, pa’ que bailes bomba, bomba puertorriqueña. ¡BOMBA! (La Bomba is really good, the rhythm goes up your feet. Mulato, get your lady, so you can dance the Bomba, Puerto Rican Bomba). Then someone says a Bomba like: Una vieja y un viejito se fueron a coger gandules, y estuvieron en la brega sábado, domingo y lunes. ¡BOMBA! (An old guy and an old lady left to get green peas and they stayed on it Saturday, Sunday and Monday). Then the chorus goes again, and so on.
- Jíbaro music. In this category we have people like Chuíto el de Bayamón and Andrés Jiménez. The last one is my father’s favorite. The style of music is unique; just a guitar, a cuatro some maracas and a lot of music. The lyrics go from the simple life in the country side to other things in life and Christmas. And the Le lo Lai is always there too. Listen to this song from Andrés Jiménez and you will understand what I’m talking about.
- Salsa music. Salsa is one of our most beloved music. Some say it started in Cuba, some others say it was in New York, but everyone agrees a Boricua was behind it. For decades we have enjoyed the music and Christmas time brings new songs to the genre. One of my favorite is Héctor Lavoe. I’m not a huge fan of his regular salsa, but from Christmas season he is really good. This link has the full production Asalto Navideño from back when Christopher Columbus arrived to Puerto Rico.
El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico – the best salsa group in my book. For over 50 years (which means 51) they have sang and made many people around the globe dance and enjoy. They have a couple of hits for Chirstmas season. La fiesta de Pilito, No hay cama pa’ tanta gente, and El Arbolito. They even have TV specials and LP productions just for Christmas season (for those of you who don’t know what an LP is, look it up, and learn some history). And every Chirstmas I dance along with my father to their amazing music.
- Danny Rivera and Vicente Caratini. When I was growing up and my mom played this music, we knew Christmas was officially started. That meant a lot of singing, a lot of eating and some tembleque for the whole neighborhood. El cardenalito is one of my favorite because I sang it in one school play in fourth grade and it means fun time in my mother’s house. It turns on the Christmas switch!
There are many more songs to enjoy Christmas with and I know all of you have a special one, or one you remember for one reason or another. Maybe your drunken uncle played the song even during the summer, or your sister tried to sing the lyrics but was never able to. Now, as an adult and a father I try to do the same thing in my house, so the new part of the family and my sons learn to enjoy the time and have fun memories to write about.
Let me know what song is good for you, or share a bomba with me (any bomba is a good bomba). Write it in the comment section so everyone can see it. Next time, I may talk about Christmas presents, then and now. Until then, cójanlo suave!