The most special time of the year has come around again, Fazendeiros. On this week’s blog, we wanted to talk about how we celebrate Christmas back home in our roots of Argentina.
Christmas Traditions in Argentina
In the past, Christmas was strictly a religious event in Argentina, however the country has moved further away from the solely religious aspect over time. Presents and gifts are still bought, but in Argentina the most important part is spending time with family and friends during this holiday.
Surprisingly, the most important day over the Christmas period in Argentina is Christmas Eve. This is because it’s tradition for families to attend Christmas mass, and then return home for a big dinner feast and celebrations with each other. It’s usually the entire extended family that gets together, making this a big celebration. Because the main festivities take place on Christmas Eve children fight sleepiness with all their might to wait until midnight and open their presents. We can clearly remember the number of games we played to keep ourselves entertained, and we always stayed away from sofas as one tiny moment of rest could mean waking up the next day!
Like many other countries, fireworks are a central focus within the celebrations. It’s another opportunity for people to come together as they light the fireworks, and they often don’t stop until the dawn of Christmas Day. Displays are often large, but most people also set fireworks off from their own properties, with their family. This can make for a truly magical night sky over the festive period.
Naturally, the festivities carry on through the holiday period. Christmas day is a surprisingly relaxing day, with the main exchanging of gifts occurring on Three Kings day on the 6th January. Children will traditionally leave their shoes outside the front door the night before to be filled with gifts, however, more recently it has been common to leave shoes under the tree. Children may also leave hay and water outside. This is done for the Magi (the three wise men), for their horses to replenish on their journey to Bethlehem.
In Argentina, Christmas decorations will feel very familiar to those of North America and Europe. People will put up beautiful Christmas decorations and lights on their houses, and there is always and abundance of flowers. Wreaths adorn front doors to welcome guests, and use the traditonal colours of red, white, green and gold.
It’s common to see Christmas trees decorated with cotton balls to represent snow, which is often a joke among communities as Christmas takes place during the summer, with temperatures reaching 40 degrees celsius. Presents are also placed for children under the Christmas tree; a more recent tradition adopted from European traditions.
The traditional Pesebre (nativity scene) is the focal point when decorating an Argentinian home.
The main Christmas dinner is served on Christmas Eve. In terms of the basics, an Argentinian Christmas dinner will seem familiar. A traditional roast turkey along with other side dishes, desserts and of course wine. Panettone is always widely enjoyed for dessert, which contains crystallised fruits and nuts, just like in Europe.
Turrón is a favourite of Argentina. This unique nougat confection is typically made with honey, sugar and egg white with toasted almonds or other nuts. It’s a sweet treat that’s widely loved throughout the country; there surely won’t be a Christmas without it!
There are however some traditional dishes you wouldn’t find elsewhere. Parrillas (outdoor grills) are very common for Christmas due to it being in Argentina’s summer months, meaning that grilled meat is almost always present when eating dinner. Sometimes, the meal is only a parrilla, and the feast is enjoyed outdoors.
Have you ever experienced an Argentinian Christmas? We would love to hear your stories in the comments below if you have!
Finally, we wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas, Fazendeiros.