Christmas in Argentina
Celebrating Christmas in Argentina has to do a lot with tradition and Catholic roots that still persist until today.
Catholic influences are everywhere even though Argentina is a country influenced by immigrants, especially Italians and Germans who emigrated there after the Second World War. When thinking of celebrating “la Navidad” in Argentina prepare yourself for blue skies, worm temperatures and a delightful breeze
In Buenos Aires especially, the scent of orange blossoms, jasmine, and honeysuckle is in the air, and lots of beautifully-colored flowers are everywhere at Christmas time.
During Christmas in Argentina, children write a letter to Santa. I found this to be a unique tradition since in the majority of Latin American countries children write to el nino Dios or baby Jesus instead. I guess this stems from their European influence where writing to Santa is fairly common.
During the night of the 24th of December families gather at the grand parents home, including brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews, nieces, etc. All to celebrate “La Navidad.”
It is also common to see young people in their 20s, go out at midnight and come back home in early morning.
Foods for Celebrating Christmas in Argentina
The families previously agree on the Christmas menu that traditionally requires each participant to bring a dish, a beverage or any part of the “cena de Navidad” - Christmas dinner.-
Since Christmas in Argentina happens during the Summer time the climate calls for a Christmas menu with cold salads, beverages and dishes that make you feel refreshed.
The favorite cold salads are the Woldorf and the Russian. The main dish can be sweet and sour pig, chicken Provencal style, and “pesheto” or tongue, but the most traditional dish is grilled meat or “parrillada Argentina” as they call it.
The “sidra” used in Argentina for Christmas has a very similar complexion to that of Spain. Argentineans also drink champagne.The best time to drink “sidra” is right after being poured because it has this “sparkling” characteristic you don’t want to loose.
In Argentina Christmas also includes delightful desserts like “turrones” – a type of candy- and “pan dulce” or sweet bread called “panetone” which has crystallized fruits and nuts, especially almonds.
Celebrating Christmas in Argentina Must Include “Pólvora” and Presents!
At midnight on the 24 of December you can hear the explosions from the fireworks going on everywhere. “Quemar pólvora” – lighting fireworks, hugging and kissing family and friends, and opening presents that were placed under the Christmas tree is a must at midnight.
Another beautiful tradition is to light “globos.” They are paper decorations you light inside and they take off into the sky. Argentinians do it at night, and you can see the skies lit with them.
Today very few families go to church to share in the midnight mass. Even though Christmas is one of the top holidays in Argentina, it has become more of a commercial holiday than a religious one.
The old tradition was to hand make the presents but as Argentineans became more affluent they started to incorporate imported gifts. Argentina entered an economic recession in 2002 forcing many people to go back to their old traditions of low expenses and hand made presents at Christmas time.
Hispanic Christmas Decorations in Argentina
In Argentina Christmas is an important holiday and this is evident in the decorations that every home displays. Wreaths in green, gold, red and white along Christmas trees decorate the living rooms.
Argentineans decorate the Christmas tree with laces, balls, Santa Clause figures or “Papa Noels” -an American influence -, and candles. The “pesebre” or Nativity also plays an important role and it is placed close to the tree.
It is interesting to see many people use cotton balls on the branches of the Christmas tree and throughout the nativity to simulate snow.
Hispanic Christmas decorations are important amongst Argentineans who enjoy ornaments made by many artisans from the South American
regions as well as those
with some European influence. Some of my Argentinean friends tell me that celebrating Christmas in Argentina has a special place in their hearts. You may try it one day and be amazed at the difference between having a traditional cold weather Christmas and warm weather outdoors one.
Like in any other Hispanic country, Christmas in Argentina is about family, mixed with some religion and lots of enjoyment, the difference is that in Argentina Christmas
is a convergence of European, American and Hispanic traditions.
True Latin Christmas Decorations
Do you have any other ways to celebrate Christmas in Argentina? I would love to hear from you, share it with many others that really want to know how Argentinians celebrate Christmas…