‘Tis the season for Christmas music! So why not take advantage of it to learn some English and Portuguese!? Based on my own experiences, the Christmas music culture seems to be much larger in the United States than in Brazil. In the United States, you will hear Christmas music everywhere you go during the month of December and end of November. The variety of Christmas songs seems endless. Brazil has its own original Christmas songs as well, albeit not as well known. Today, we are going to take a look at five Christmas songs that have versions in both English and Portuguese.
Here are some guidelines for studying with Christmas songs (or any songs!) Step 1: Listen to them, trying to understand as much as you can without looking at the lyrics. Step 2: Read through the lyrics looking up any unknown vocabulary. Step 3: Listen again while looking at the lyrics. Step 4: Listen a third time without looking at the lyrics. You will be amazed at how much more you understand the third time than you did on the first time. Step 5: Try singing along to practice pronunciation and rhythm! (You can do this on Step 3 as well!)
1. Jingle Bells / Bate o Sino (Sino de Belém)
This is one of the first Christmas songs that kids learn. In school, we would even make up our own words! “Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg…” Silly stuff!
The Portuguese version has a few different names. I’ve come across it being called “Sino de Belém”, “Bate o Sino”, and “Bate o Sino Pequenino”
“Bate o sino” translates to “Ring the bell” in English.
Bate o Sino Pequenino
2. Happy Xmas (War is Over) / Então é Natal
Xmas is an abbreviated way of saying “Christmas.” One thing to point out is that this song uses the word “happy” together with Christmas. This is a bit atypical. In English, we generally put “happy” with every holiday except for Christmas. Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, Happy Mother’s Day, Happy Easter, Happy New Year, Happy Holidays, etc.. but Merry Christmas!
Happy Xmas (War is Over)
The Portuguese version is pretty close with the lyrics. The title “Então é Natal” means “So it is Christmas.”
Então é Natal
3. Silent Night / Noite Feliz
This beautiful song is a long-standing classic based in religious roots. The song is about the night of Jesus’ birth.
“Noite Feliz” means happy night.
4. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town / Vem Chegando o Natal
While these songs have the same tune, the lyrics are quite a bit different. The English version is about telling kids to be good because Santa is coming, and they won’t get any gifts if they aren’t good.
Santa Claus is Coming to Town
The Portuguese version of this song has nothing to do with Santa. It’s more about the celebration and why we celebrate Christmas. The title “Vem Chegando o Natal” means “Christmas is coming”.
Vem Chegando o Natal
5. Let It Snow / Vai Nevar
Another classic song! This song gives you all the warm and fuzzy feelings about the winter. Of course, it would never snow for Christmas in Brazil since Christmas is during Brazil’s summer.
Let It Snow
Well, there you have it! Five different songs in English and five in Portuguese to practice this holiday season. It’s a great way to introduce some new vocabulary with some catchy tunes. Leave a comment below with your favorite Christmas song!
Also be sure to check out our group classes! We have beginner Portuguese and English classes starting up in January. They’re perfect to gift to family and friends as well!