Christmas in Argentina – Florencia Botta

Christmas! Time for parties, food music, and games! Even this year, the holidays represent a time to look forward. I love planning and preparing for it, even if face to face meetings are not possible.

As we all can imagine, there are many variations of Christmas festivities around the world. In Argentina, the 25th is a national holiday, which means most people have a form of celebration. Christmas eve takes the number one place on people’s plans, which generally include a big family dinner with a countdown until midnight and fireworks. I can imagine many will see a resemblance between this tradition and New Year’s Eve activities.

The holiday is very significative for Christianity. In these days, practising Christians can go to mass on Christmas eve before dinner and the following day at noon and night. Although the event is celebrated on the 24th and 25th, the season starts on the 8th (the Feast of the Immaculate Conception). Traditionally on this day, people put together the Christmas tree and take it apart on January 6th (the day of the Three Wise Men), when the season ends.

One of the most significant differences between this holiday in Latin America and the UK is location. As Argentina is in the southern hemisphere, the festivity falls at the beginning of summer, which results in lots of people being on break. The warmer temperature also allows for more outdoor activities. Going to the beach, pools, and having ice cream is very popular. In terms of food, there are many regional variations for foods and celebrations. I can’t speak for everyone, but in my city, many meals have a heavy Italian influence. Cold meats and salads are usually eaten at dinner.

These meals include thing slice of beef with a creamy sauce called vitel toné, savoury roll cake (pionono salado), stuffed cold meats (matambre) and refreshing salads with ingredients like potato and apple. Sweets include nuts, chocolate, and nougat bars (turrón). Panettone (Pan dulce) is one of the most popular sweet treats for this holiday. In my opinion, the most delicious are found in bakeries.

As the weather is generally mild, there are many shops open until late on Christmas eve. It is common to see also celebrations outside, so even if you don’t have anybody to spend it with, it is possible to find something to do. The next day is a little different, reserved for more private reunions, when it is usual for stores to close until late afternoon.

The traditional character of Santa Claus (called Papá Noel) is supposed to deliver presents only during Christmas eve so that gifts can be opened at midnight (usually accompanied with a toast). This night is one of the few times children can stay up past midnight.

This year, I won’t be able to follow most of my holiday traditions. However, I am going to do my best to enjoy the season, experience new things, and have fun. Hope you can enjoy the season as well! 😊

Written by Florencia Botta (PhD Archaeology & Osteology student) – one of your Student Voice Ambassadors

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