Aguinaldo is a folk genre of Christmas music in several Latin American countries, based on an archaic form of Spanish Christmas carols or villancicos which is traditionally sung on Christmas itself or during the surrounding holiday season. Aguinaldo music is often performed by what is called parrandas - a casual group of people, often family or friends, who merrily go from house to house taking along their singing.
In Venezuela, aguinaldo is a genre of Christmas music and generally have six verses. Played by "parranderos" or "aguinalderos" that announce their arrival in song and seek to gain entry to the community houses to relate the story of the birth of Christ, and to share in the joy of the message of Peace on Earth and to all People of Good Will. Aguinaldos are played with typical instruments such as the cuatro (a small, four-string guitar), furruco, and maracas. Other instruments often used are violin, guitar, tambourine, mandolin, bandol, caja (a percussive box instrument), and marímbula (an Afro-Venezuelan instrument). In exchange for the entertainment, "parranderos" are traditionally given food and drink: hallacas, panettone, rum and "Ponche Crema" (a form of alcoholic eggnog). Aguinaldos are also played at Christmas church celebrations.
Puerto Rican aguinaldo
In Puerto Rico, the aguinaldo is a musical gift offered during the Christmas season and is a tradition inherited from the island's Spanish colonizers. As a musical gift, aguinaldos are mostly played by "parranderos" or "trullas" during the Christmas holidays. This is a practice that is slowly being lost.
Originally, aguinaldos were "villancicos" with strong religious connotations but soon evolved to "coplas" (quartets) and "decimas" (ten-verses compositions) about all kinds of everyday topics. Aguinaldos were played with typical instruments such as the bordonúa, a tiple, a cuatro, a carracho or güiro, and maracas. With bordonua players becoming more difficult to find, the guitar became a staple accompanying the cuatro. Today, panderos (also known as "pleneras"), brass instruments and whatever makes noise, are used.
As a genre, the aguinaldo is played mostly on the radio on key Christmas holidays in Puerto Rico; the day before Christmas and in Christmas, on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, and the day before Three Kings Day and on Three King's Day (January 6). Aguinaldos are also played at Christmas church celebrations.
In the Philippines, the word aguinaldo has come to refer instead to the gift—usually cash or coins—collected by small groups of children that go carolling. A traditional instrument used is a makeshift tambourine made of several tansan (aluminium bottle caps) strung on some wire. Carollers solicit homeowners with the chant "Namamasko po!" (approx. "wassailing!"), and after singing wait to be rewarded with aguinaldo.
Aguinaldo or Serenal is a music genre used in Parang (Parranda) a type of Christmas music that came to Trinidad and Tobago from Venezuela. Singers and instrumentalists (collectively known as "parranderos") travel from house to house in the community, often joined by friends and neighbours family, using whatever instruments are to hand. Popular parang instruments include the cuatro and maracas (locally known as chac-chacs).
- Atlas de Tradiciones de Venezuela, Fundación Bigott, 1998.