Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, it’s hard to go anywhere without being bombarded by the same handful of holiday songs. If you’re looking for a new way to spread seasonal cheer, try familiarizing yourself with these songs sung around the world. Here are 15 songs and carols to add some international flair to your holiday festivities.
1. “PETIT PAPA NOEL” // FRANCE
“Petit Papa Noel” or “Little Father Christmas” is a Christmas favorite in France. The song is told from the perspective of a child anxiously awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. In addition to having presents on the brain, the narrator also seems very concerned about making sure Santa stays warm:
Mais avant de partir (But before you leave) Il faudra bien te couvrir (Be sure to cover yourself well) Dehors tu vas avoir si froid (You’ll be very cold outside.) C’est un peu à cause de moi. (That’s kind of my fault.)
2. “LA FIESTA DE PILITO” // PUERTO RICO
Every holiday playlist could use more salsa music. “La Fiesta de Pilito” or “Pilito’s Party” by the Puerto Rican band El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico focuses on the most important part of the season: the party food.
3. “DORMI, DORMI, BEL BAMBINO” // ITALY
Most things sound better in Italian, and that includes Christmas carols. “Dormi, Dormi, Bel Bambino” or “Sleep, Sleep, Beautiful Child” can be sung as a classic Christmas hymn as well as a lovely lullaby.
4. “SNOW CANDY” // SOUTH KOREA
When it comes to cheesy holiday pop songs, the Koreans may have us beat. “Snow Candy” by the K-Pop group Starship Planet is an upbeat love song that’s as sugary-sweet as the name suggests, and with just enough seasonal references to make it a perfect fit for the holidays.
5. “MI BURRITO SABANERO” // VENEZUELA
The burrito in this song refers to a little donkey on its way to Bethlehem (not a tortilla filled with rice and beans). Even if you don’t understand Spanish, it’s hard not to smile while repeating the words “tuqui, tuqui” over and over again.
6. “BETELEHEMU” // NIGERIA
This Yoruba Christmas song was written by the Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji. Today the uplifting hymn is performed by choirs across the world during the Christmas season, and is often accompanied by drumming and choreography.
7. “TALJ, TALJ” // LEBANON
Lebanon isn’t exactly known for its snowy winters, but that didn’t stop snow from becoming the subject one of the country’s most beloved holiday tunes. Popularized by the iconic Lebanese singer Fairuz, the title translates to “Snow, Snow.”
8. “FUM, FUM, FUM” // CATALONIA
Originally written in the Catalan language native to the northeastern region of Spain, the classic song is now sung in different languages around the globe. No matter where it’s being performed, the catchy fum, fum, fum sound—meant to mimic the strumming of a stringed instrument like a guitar—never changes.
9. “ANG PASKO AY SUMAPIT” // PHILIPPINES
This Filipino favorite is a great Christmas song to dance to, no matter what part of the world you live in. In addition to its energetic melody, “Ang Paso Ay Sumapit,” or “Christmas Has Arrived,” emphasizes what’s really important around the holidays:
Tayo ay magmahalan (Let us all love one another) Ating sundin ang gintong aral (Let's follow the golden rule) At magbuhat ngayon (And from now on) Kahit hindi Pasko ay magbigayan! (Even when it's not Christmas, let's share!)
10. “LASST UNS FROH UND MUNTER SEIN” // GERMANY
Even if you didn’t know the title of this song means “Let Us Be Happy and Cheerful,” it’s hard to listen to it without feeling warm and fuzzy inside. This carol is traditionally sung on Nicholas Eve, December 5.
11. “LOS PECES EN EL RIO” // SPAIN, LATIN AMERICA
If you’re looking for a different take on the story of Jesus’s birth, this classic Spanish carol places the focus on some nearby fish. The titular “fish in the river” apparently express their excitement over the big event by drinking a lot of water.
12. “MUSEVISA” // NORWAY
“The Mouse Song” tells the story of a family of mice celebrating the holidays, which would sound pretty fun if they weren’t living in constant fear of getting caught in a mousetrap. Maybe this song is better enjoyed if you don’t understand the lyrics.
13. “IMPODOBESTE MAMA BRADUL” // ROMANIA
This contemporary Christmas song from the Romanian pop star Fuego means “Mother Adorns the Tree.” And if you can’t understand what Fuego is singing about, his music video unfortunately doesn’t add much clarity.
14. “RAVEN RASKAR OVER ISEN” // SWEDEN
This seasonal Swedish song, which means “the fox runs across the ice,” is traditionally performed as a singing game while dancing around the Christmas tree.
15. “THE WEXFORD CAROL” // IRELAND
The “Wexford Carol” is a traditional Irish Christmas song dating back to the 12th century. English speakers—with Irish heritage or otherwise—should have little trouble singing along with this ancient folk tune.