It is a strange holiday season. We are dealing with the immediate consequences of a global pandemic, and with the uncertainty of the upcoming months, the holidays could be stressful for some and for others an opportunity to focus on family, traditions and reconnect with the things that bring a sense of normal to the daily routines. Physical distancing will definitely reshape the Puerto Rican traditional way of celebrating the holidays. Large gatherings around the kitchen will be replaced with cooking in isolation, delivering food to your friends and relatives or a coquito toasting over zoom.
Whatever new practices bring the crisis during the season, music can’t be absent from the festivities. Be it in a playlist format, or singing traditional parranda tunes, if one thing helps us connect with our inner self and change our moods is music. Listening to music and making it in times of social distancing, help us cope with this reality as it provides a sense of participation, belonging, and community connection as we strive together.
During the initial months of this pandemic, we watched and listened to people making music together from their balconies and quarantined musicians gifting us intimate performances from their home studios. This article published by The Guardian summarizes how music has been used throughout history as a tool for spiritual healing and social bonding for thousands of years amid disease.
Like many other workers, musicians have received a direct economic impact this year with concerts and festival cancellations. They are looking for creative ways to face the crisis, particularly during a period that is usually busy. From virtual parrandas to small ensembles playing outdoors following safety protocols, they are still offering their services for the festivities. Support your local musicians during this season: tune in to their live streamings, leave them a tip if you can and buy their music and merchandise. Our action and solidarity, particularly during the holidays, will alleviate their economic hardship.
No matter what your plans are for the holiday season, this playlist can help you set the mood for a pastelada, a sing-along, or spark the energy needed to clean up the house and put up your tree and decorations!
Puerto Rican holiday music could be extremely joyful or very melancholic and moving as it brings memories of childhood, family traditions, other places, and people that are no longer physically with us. This playlist of música navideña is also an expression of personal and collective identity and hopefully will help you to find some joy during this particular season. If you are feeling isolated and unsure of what the future will hold, use the healing power of music. Music for hope and reflection of better times to come.