The Origins of the Song ‘Cinco Pa Las Doce’ by Nestor Zavarce

BY: 
Rachel
 | December 30, 2022

Image courtesy of Nuestro Stories.

From Christmas to New Years’, around the world, Spanish-speaking countries have a variety of traditions that are ingrained in our culture, woven through the very fabric of our people, who, through generations of struggles and triumphs, absolutely embrace any chance to celebrate. 

This spirit of celebration includes foods, specific outfits, and, of course, memorable songs to help ring in the moment. 

One of the most prevalent songs is Nestor Zavarce’s Cinco Pa Las Doce, a sentimental piece with Venezuelan roots that has spread across Latin America, with versions popping up everywhere — from salsa versions in Puerto Rico to a merengue version in the Dominican Republic.

An actor’s one-hit wonder 

Nestor Zavarce was a well-known actor in both film and telenovelas in Venezuela, with his career starting as a child actor in the 50s. 

At 12, he landed a role in the movie “La Balandra Isabel Llego Esta Tarde.” From there, his career continued to span decades until he retired in 1974. Like many stars of the 60s, he parlayed his stardom into additional avenues, including a fairly successful singing career. 

After the success of his first song, “El Pajaro Chogüi,” his record company pushed him to record a Christmas song by Oswaldo Oropeza. Last minute, Oropeza asked Zavarce to record “Cinco Pa Las Doce” as a b-side filler song. Ironically, it was the one that became infamous and has continued to be a time-honored tradition to sing. 

Get into the spirit, and listen to the song here. We’ve included the lyrics to make sure that you can sing along. 

Las campanas de la iglesia están sonando

anunciando que el año viejo se va.

La alegría del año nuevo viene ya

los abrazos se confunden sin cesar. 

Faltan cinco pa’ las doce

el año va a terminar

me voy corriendo a mi casa

a abrazar a mi mamá. 

Me perdonan que me vaya de la fiesta

pero hay algo que jamás podré dejar.

Una linda viejecita que me espera,

en las noches de una eterna navidad.

Faltan cinco pa’ las doce

el año va a terminar

me voy corriendo a mi casa

a abrazar a mi mamá. 

Las campanas de la iglesia están sonando

anunciando que el año viejo se va.

La alegría del año nuevo viene ya

los abrazos se confunden sin cesar.

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