5 Timeless Christmas Stories in Spanish: Language Lessons from Santa and Scrooge
When you think of Christmas, do you think of colorful characters?
Maybe Scrooge, the Grinch, Santa Claus, Rudolph or the Bumble come to mind.
Christmas characters are near and dear to our hearts, and they make for some unforgettable Spanish lessons.
The most festive season is upon us, so it’s time to make your Spanish practice a little more festive too!
Christmas is widely celebrated in the Spanish-speaking world, so it behooves any Spanish learner to brush up on the language and traditions involved in the holiday.
We aren’t talking about donning a Santa hat or tying some tinsel to your Spanish books—why not read some Spanish stories? Reading stories is always a great way to learn a language, and a festive story will get you in the spirit for Christmas.
Want more festive Spanish fun? Turn on some popular traditional Spanish Christmas songs! Learn about festive traditions in Spanish-speaking countries! Maybe, just maybe, pull out that Santa hat?
How can reading Spanish Christmas stories help you learn?
For a start, reading festive stories will help you build your vocabulary. This time of the year might involve words you haven’t heard or used before, but that are important to a fuller understanding of Spanish.
Well-known stories can allow for easier comprehension. Reading familiar Christmas stories in Spanish provides you with well-known characters and story lines that make your task a little easier. The stories we have chosen either use classic Christmas characters (Santa) or tell stories that also have English versions available online. Both options can be fantastically helpful, whatever your level.
Making learning fun is essential to keeping at it. So, if you’re a fan of Christmas, then injecting some festive spirit into your Spanish practice is a great idea for keeping up the habit over the holidays.
5 Timeless Christmas Stories in Spanish to Warm Your Heart
Spanish Christmas stories can be great for you whether you’re a beginner or pretty much a pro! We’ve picked out a story for each level, so you can have festive fun at your comprehension base.
And now, let’s get this reading session started!
“Inversonia y la Navidad” (Inversonia and Christmas)
This silly, made-up story is about a planet (Inversonia) where Christmas is inverted. Santa Claus is Clanta Saus, and he also happens to be blue.
While it certainly isn’t a traditional Christmas story, the benefits of “Inversonia y la Navidad” are many for beginners. Firstly, it’s a very short story—just one page—so you’ll find it a quick, if not totally simple, read. Secondly, it’s light-hearted, and the interactions between Clanta and a child are fairly simple to follow.
The tricky bits may be the tenses, if you have yet to learn some of the more advanced tenses you may notice conjugations you aren’t used to, but your basic understanding of the story should be there.
Tips for beginner readers:
Continue to read through the story, even if you don’t understand some parts. Though some words may be difficult or unexpected, you’ll probably understand them in the context of the story. Write them down and look them up later, the worst thing beginners can do is stop and start, over and over, ruining the flow of the story.
Look for familiar words. Sure, sometimes words that look like English equivalents are false friends, but sometimes they aren’t. The context should help you figure out which is which. Take a look at this excerpt from the story:
Clanta Saus pensó un poco y se le ocurrió una gran idea. Tenia que hacer algo para que Lamuel comprenda lo que le contó.
Does ocurrió remind you of “occur”? What about idea and idea? Comprenda and comprehend? Look for friends like this to help you along the way!
“La historia del niño Jesús” (The Story of Baby Jesus)
This traditional Christmas story will be easy to follow because you probably already know it!
The story of baby Jesus begins with Mary and Joseph going to the stables, and goes through his birth and the arrival of the Three Wise Men.
Tips for beginner readers:
The best part about this story on this website is that some of the words you’ll see are hyperlinked—these links lead to Christmas songs related to the topic and will help extend your learning.
Though some of the words may not be in your vocabulary, just write them down and come back to them. You should be able to understand from the context after a second pass over. There are also some more difficult conjugations, but if you look at the roots of the words you should be able to understand what’s happening. Perhaps you don’t know which tense se llamará uses, but you can see the root word llamar ( to call), right? This little trick will help you get through the story.
“La niña de los fósforos” (The Little Match Girl) by Hans Christian Andersen
This class story follows a poor little girl who sells matches in the street. When the little girl lights the matches, she sees beautiful images like Christmas trees and shooting stars—and, finally, her grandmother. Some think the story’s ending is sad, while others see the ending as more bittersweet. Read it through and see what you think!
Tips for intermediate readers:
This one is perfect for your level.
One great idea when reading stories in another language is to read a story you know. Why not check out the English version of “The Little Match Girl,” before or after, to help you get through this one? You might also want to check out some of these Spanish reading tips that will get you through the more complex parts of this story.
Remember that some of the elements of this story are meant to be imaginative, not literal. This could be confusing if you try to fight it, so just go with the flow and read slowly if you’re feeling confused by the various visions the little girl has.
“Cuento de Navidad” (A Christmas Carol) by Charles Dickens
This is a festive story for the pros, or those who are feeling ambitious during their time off!
Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is an incredible novella that was published in the late 1800s but remains popular today. The famous story is about a bitter old man, Ebeneezer Scrooge, and his visits from ghosts of Christmas past, present and yet to come. The impact the ghosts have on Scrooge is huge, and the story’s ending is incredibly heartwarming.
Tips for advanced readers:
This tale is meant just for your level.
If you’re struggling to follow the Spanish edition of this classic, why not read the English edition alongside or beforehand? Knowing the general story will help you understand the story more easily, especially as in some parts some fairly difficult language is used.
Break it up into parts. Sometimes lengthy reading can have us skimming over the details, ignoring important parts and racing to the finish. The problem with that is you aren’t improving your Spanish very much and you also probably aren’t having a very good time. Try breaking up the story, stopping after each ghost visit and giving yourself a breather before you dive back in—it could make the world of difference.
A Spanish Christmas story of your own
Reading Spanish Christmas stories is great for your Spanish, but so is writing them, so why not try to write your own Christmas story? Whether you write a silly version of a real Christmas tale, or you write about your family’s Christmas traditions, practicing your new festive vocabulary is important.
So where to begin? Decide what sort of Christmas story you want to write. Look up a traditional version of that story in English or Spanish and consider all the important elements. If you’re writing about your own Christmas traditions, take some notes first, so when you go to write you have your ideas clear in your mind.
If you’re still feeling uninspired, check out this great collection of intermediate difficulty Spanish Christmas stories. They’ll give you some ideas for key Christmas themes and characters you can work with in your new Spanish Christmas story. How about a story about Rudolph, the Grinch or the Three Wise Men? What about a story with all of them in it?
Write the story as best you can, without a dictionary or translating service. Done? Go back through with a dictionary and see where you can add some fun descriptions or extra elements to the story.
Remember that the most important part of writing a Spanish Christmas story is testing out your new found skills, so don’t be afraid to do something a little tricky. Nobody will read your story if you don’t give it to them, so if you hate the end result you can simply throw it away.
Enjoy your festive Spanish fun! Immersing yourself in Spanish at all times of the year is essential to improving your language learning.