The song “Feliz Navidad” was written and recorded by José Feliciano in 1970 and has gone on to become a classic international Christmas pop song. It is joyous and simplicity itself. It Iaves the traditional Spanish greeting of “Feliz Navidad, próspero año y felicidad,” which translates into English as “Merry Christmas, a prosperous year and happiness,” with the English “I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart.” (This makes it a macaronic, which is a text that uses a mixture of languages. An example of a Christmas carol that is a macaronic is “In dulci jubilo,” which combines German and Latin.) Feliciano’s recording of “Feliz Navidad” is recognized by ASCAP as one of the top 25 most played and recorded Christmas songs in the world. The song was released in 1970 as a single, going to #10 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and on Feliciano’s 1970 Christmas album Feliz Navidad.
On the recording, Feliciano plays both an acoustic guitar and a Puerto Rican Cuatro, which is a member of the lute family and is guitar-like in function with a shape closer to a violin. Producer Rick Jarrard add the string and horns. Paulinho Magalhaes is on drums.
José Feliciano was born in Lares, Puerto Rico, in 1945. He is a virtuoso guitarist, singer, and composer. He has been blind since birth due to a congenital glaucoma. He began playing the accordion as a child and then the guitar, which he would play all day long. He later had classical lessons with Harold Morris, a student of Andrés Segovia. Feliciano continues to tour and perform.