Christmas Music Around The World Listeners tell us a about Christmas music that is rarely heard in the U.S. but that has special meaning for cultures abroad.
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Christmas Music Around The World

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Christmas Music Around The World

Christmas Music Around The World

Christmas Music Around The World

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Listeners tell us a about Christmas music that is rarely heard in the U.S. but that has special meaning for cultures abroad.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WINTER WONDERLAND")

TONY BENNETT: (Singing) Sleigh bells ring. Are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Christmas music is all around in coffee shops, stores, on TV commercials. Maybe your favorite is "Winter Wonderland" or "All I Want For Christmas Is You."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU")

MARIAH CAREY: (Singing) Make my wish come true. All I want for Christmas is you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ah, Mariah - so nice. Now, for many Americans, there's more to this holiday soundtrack. Their playlist includes songs from all over the world.

(SOUNDBITE OF LA RONDALLITA SONG, "EL BURRITO DE BELEN")

MIGUEL CONTRERAS: You hear from the beginning. It starts off with that guitar. You immediately know you're going to start dancing - kind of can't help it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EL BURRITO DE BELEN")

LA RONDALLITA: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: My name is Miguel Contreras. I'm from LA. The name of song is "Burrito De Belen," like, a little donkey of Bethlehem.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EL BURRITO DE BELEN")

LA RONDALLITA: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: People also call it just, like, Tuqui Tuqui, the sound of the donkey trotting towards Bethlehem.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EL BURRITO DE BELEN")

LA RONDALLITA: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: We would go to Mexico a lot, down to central Mexico where my dad's from. Down there we have things called posadas, like a Christmas party but it involves the whole community. You sort of march down the streets. This song is part of the culmination of that whole process. It's where you're going to have, like, you know, your party and your games and your pinatas and stuff.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EL BURRITO DE BELEN")

LA RONDALLITA: (Singing in Spanish).

(SOUNDBITE OF EASON CHAN SONG, "LONELY CHRISTMAS")

OLIVIA TSANG: There's not a lot of Christmas songs out there for people that speak Cantonese. My name's Olivia Tsang. I am originally from Hong Kong. But I live in Los Angeles. This song - it makes me feel, like, pretty connected to where I'm from.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LONELY CHRISTMAS")

EASON CHAN: (Singing in Cantonese).

TSANG: In Hong Kong, like, you see all of these, like, Christmas lights and everything and, like, Christmas decoration and couples around these shopping centers and whatnot.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LONELY CHRISTMAS")

CHAN: (Singing in Cantonese).

TSANG: The song "Lonely Christmas" from Eason Chan is about this guy trying to, like, confess his heart on Christmas, but it's not going through.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LONELY CHRISTMAS")

CHAN: (Singing) Merry, merry Christmas - lonely, lonely Christmas.

TSANG: At some point in our lives, we're all single, right? So (laughter) I think, at some point, we can all resonate to it when we're going Christmas shopping.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LONELY CHRISTMAS")

CHAN: (Singing) Lonely, lonely Christmas - merry, merry Christmas - (Singing in Cantonese).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JOSEPH MON CHER FIDELE")

GUY ALCINDOR, HENRI DEBS AND MANUELA PIOCHE: (Singing in French).

MICHELE STEELE: Hi. I'm Michele Steele from Chicago. The song "Joseph Mon Cher Fidele" - in English, it means Joseph, my loyal one. It's a term of endearment. Mary is saying that to Joseph. (Speaking French). We're looking for a place to stay.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JOSEPH MON CHER FIDELE")

ALCINDOR, DEBS AND PIOCHE: (Speaking French).

STEELE: Looking for a place to stay is really stressful. But in the song, she's like, you know, I've got this new life in me that's come from heaven. And that's why the song, I think, sounds so happy and vibrant and joyous because Mary is.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JOSEPH MON CHER FIDELE")

ALCINDOR, DEBS AND PIOCHE: (Speaking French).

STEELE: I went to Martinique in the Caribbean one year to teach English there. And I was invited to a sante noel (ph). It's essentially a Christmas party with a ton of caroling, everybody up on their feet, singing, dancing, drinking with the warm weather and the Caribbean beats going. You just can't help but have a party.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JOSEPH MON CHER FIDELE")

ALCINDOR, DEBS AND PIOCHE: (Singing in French).

STEELE: (Singing in French, laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JOSEPH MON CHER FIDELE")

ALCINDOR, DEBS AND PIOCHE: (Singing in French).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Michele Steele. We also heard from Olivia Tsang and Miguel Contreras. Do you have a special holiday song you'd like to share? Tweet us at @NPRWeekend. And we may share your story and your song on the air.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JOSEPH MON CHER FIDELE")

ALCINDOR, DEBS AND PIOCHE: (Singing in French).

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