Zambombas in Andalucia
The villancicos are also known by the name of zambombas in Andalucía, a name which comes from the instrument that is traditionally used to accompany them.
A zambomba is a drum like instrument that has a stick inserted through the skin, and the stick is moved up and down, creating the rhythm. Small cymbals are normally attached to the stick to give extra effect, and these zambombas would normally be made from an old paint tin or teracotta flower pot, with a membrane stretched over the top and a stick inserted through it. They would also use tambourines and cowbells, and with the clapping rhythms the whole atmosphere would be a swirling noisy festivity. The photographs of Tha Zambomba drum were taken at the live nativity scenes, locally known as The Belen Viviente in Arcos de la Frontera, a great place to hear the Zambomba first hand.
The whole family would join in, from the grandparents right down to the smallest of children, to sing and dance these festive flamenco carols. They are performed in a multitude of rhythms including those of the tiento and bulería, but most commonly in 3/4 time.
The villancicos are a kind of flamenco Christmas Carol that were originally peasant songs, but have now been flamencoized and sung at Christmas time.
It was customary for the gypsies (especially in areas like Utrera in Seville or the Barrio Santiago in Jerez de la Frontera) to hold a fiesta during the week leading up to Christmas in a celebration that would start with a Matanza, the ritual killing of the pig.The whole family would sit around an open fire, to eat, drink, and sing these festive songs.