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Holy Crap

23 December 2013


Although the classic villancicos were written for courtly dances in the 15th and 16th centuries, in the Americas, especially in Mexico — although often with lyrics by the most sophisticated of poets (Sor Juana wrote a number of villancicos, both in Spanish and Nahuatl) — they continued to be written up through the 18th century, meant to appeal to the masses.  The art was in creating out of simple language and allusions to ordinary life, an extraordinary  message.  Those still popular today being mostly related to the birth of Christ, villancico has the ordinary meaning now of “Christmas carol”.

El peces en el rio” is both a modern, and classical villancico.  The images are simple and earthy… Mary combing her hair, fish swimming in a river and… laundry put out to dry.  While Mary is presented as someone special (with golden hair and a “fine silver” comb), and something extraordinary is going on (the fish are witnessing the birth of God), something even more extraordinary has happened… God, taking on human form… and needs his diapers changed.

El peces en el rio” … here by the Gypsy Kings:


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