Villancicos: Colombian Christmas songs to listen to in December

Christmas songs

If you spend Christmas in Bogotá, you will get used to villancicos. These traditional Colombian Christmas songs are played this time of the year in Colombia, especially at a Novena. Here, some of the most popular ones you can add to your Xmas playlist.

Every country that celebrates Christmas has its own music to set the vibe of this season. Well, Colombia is not an exception. Here, you can listen to villancicos, which are songs that talk about Belén (Bethlehem), Baby Jesus’s birth, the Three Wise Men, Mary and Joseph, and many other Christmas-y topics.

Here, I bring some of the most emblematic villancicos that you can listen to if you really want to live the whole Colombian Christmas experience. Although some of them are not from this country, they are very popular here and are part of the national traditions.


It’s not clear what the word Tutaina means, but what you have to know is that this is probably the most popular villancico in Colombia. The chorus goes like this:

Tutaina tuturuma
Tutaina tuturumaina
Tutaina tuturuma, turuma
Tutaina tuturumaina.

Think of this as a tongue twister with no meaning, but it might help you practice your Spanish pronunciation related to the letter T. The rest of the lyrics talks about how shepherds and the Three Wise Men go to visit Baby Jesus who has just been born. This villancico is so iconic that people say they are in Modo Tutaina (Tutaina Mode) when they are completely caught by the Christmas spirit!

Campana sobre campana (Bell over bell)

It’s a song that also celebrates the birth of Baby Jesus and says how the Belén bells ring, played by angels, to announce the good news. It’s also very popular and it’s common to listen to it during a Novena.

Los Peces en El Río (The fish in the river)

This villancico focuses on the Virgin Mary. It depicts her, for instance, combing her golden hair with a silver comb. The chorus talks about how the fish drinks in the river. I assume it’s a metaphor about how fast they go just to see Baby Jesus born.

A la nanita nana

My family used to call me “nana” or “nanita” when I was a kid. My siblings knew this villancico from their trips to Bogotá and sang it to me every time they could. They did it, not because they were nice, but because they knew I hated it for a reason that I can’t remember now.

Here in Bogotá I made peace with A la nanita nana and I sing it every time it’s played during a Novena. It talks about a sleepy Baby Jesus who is dreaming while his cradle is swinging. The chorus is really catchy!


The chorus of this song is also a meaningless tongue twister too! It goes like this:

Anton tiruliruliru

Anton tirulirurá

anton tiruliruliru

Anton tirurilurá

It talks about adoring Baby Jesus at the crib and it’s almost a lullaby for him. It’s very cute and also a must-listen during Colombian Christmas.

Mi Burrito Sabanero (The little donkey from the savannah)

This is my favorite villancico of all! It was created by the Venezuelan composer, Hugo Blanco, and it talks about a person who rides a donkey to go to Belén. This playful and festive song is required at any Novena and you will feel the Christmas vibe just by listening to it.

Do you like Colombian Christmas songs or have you listened to a villancico before? What kind of music do you play during Christmas in your country? Copy the link to one of them in the comments section below: I would love to listen to it!

Keep visiting Colture for more information on other nice Colombian Christmas traditions!

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