A Christmas song with Fairuz

Published 2022-12-17

I don't like Christmas songs. The most annoying Christmas song I know is Jingle Bells. However, just like most things in life, this Christmas song is better when it is performed in Arabic.

We shall therefore learn the beginning of the Arabic version of Jingle Bells. It is sung by the very popular Lebanese singer Fairuz.

In Arabic, the song is called laylatu 3iid, which we can translate to Christmas Eve.


ليلة عيد
laylatu 3iid
Christmas Eve

The phrase (laylatu 3iid) literally means holiday night. I have described the word 3iid in a previous blog post, it simply means "holiday". The word (layla) means "night", but it this context it should be translated to "evening".

holiday eve

Since this is a Christmas song, we know that Fairuz does not sing about any holiday evening, but about Christmas Eve. A more common way to say Christmas Eve, at lest in Standard Arabic, is (laylatu 3iid miilaad). The word miilaad means "birth" and refers of course to the birth of Jesus.

Christmas Eve
اللية ليلة عيد
al-laylatu laylatu 3iid
Tonight it is Christmas Eve.

The phrase (al-laylatu laylatu 3iid) literally means "The night is a holiday night". Since we know that (layla) means "night", we know that the definite form (al-layla) means "the night". In the context, (al-layla) rather means "this night", i.e. "tonight". This can be compared witht the word yawm that means "day" with its definite form (al-yawm) that literally means "the day" but most often means "today".

Tonight is holiday eve.
زينة وناس
ziina wa naas
decoration and people

The word (ziina) means "decoration" which in this context refers to Christmas decoration. The conjunction (wa) means "and", note that it is connected with the word that follows it. The word (naas) means "people".

ﺯِﻳﻨَﺔ
ziina
decoration
ﻭَ
wa
and
ﻧَﺎﺱ
naas
people
صوت أجراس
Sawt 'ajraas
sound of bells

The phrase (Sawt 'ajraas) means "sound of bells", and it rhymes with the word (naas) that means "people".

sound of bells
3am bi-tarinn ba3iid
is ringing far away

This phrase shows differences between Standard Arabic and Lebanese dialect. The verb (btarinnu) means "rings", it is dialect and corresponds to (tarinnu) in Standard Arabic. Before the verb, there is the word (3am) which is used in dialect to show that it present continuous: "are ringning". The word (ba3iid) means "distant" and is the same in dialect as in Standard Arabic, but to be correct, the word should have accusative case (ba3iidan) since it it an object for time.

If you have read my blog post about another song by Fairuz, I write your name, you know that it is common that verbs in Lebanese dialect start with b.

In Standard Arabic, we could write like this:

The sound of bells is ringing far away.

If we want the sentence to be a bit more elegant, we can write like this:

Bells are ringing far away.

Then we get a short break, when the chorus is repeated again.

ليلة عيد
laylatu 3iid
Christmas Eve

ليلة عيد
laylatu 3iid
Christmas Eve

اللية ليلة عيد
al-laylatu laylatu 3iid
Tonight it is Christmas Eve.

After the refrain, it is time for more new words and expressions.

صوت أولاد
Sawt 'awlaad
children's voices

The phrase (Sawt 'awlaad) maens "children's voices", it is quite similar to the previous phrase (Sawt 'ajraas) that means "sound of bells". The word ('awlaad) is the plural version walad that means both "boy" and "child". In most context where I have heard the word, the meaning is boy, but in this song, I thing child is a better translation.

children's voices
تياب جداد
tiyaab jadaad
new clothes

The word (tiyaab) is dialect and means "garments", in Standard Arabic we instead say thiyaab. The adjective (jadaad) is dialect and means "new", in Standard Arabic we instead say jadiida.

new clothes
وبكرة الحب جديد
wa bukra l-Hubb jadiid
and tomorrow love is new

The conjunction wa that means "and" are we already familiar with. The word bukra means "tomorrow" and is dialect, in Standard Arabic we say ghadan instead. The phrase (al-Hubb jadiid) means "the love is new".

Tomorrow, love is new.