Christmas in Argentina. Traditions and customs

We decorate our houses for Christmas with trees, lights, and stockings. In Argentina, people put on their bathing suits and travel to the beach.

The holidays coincide with the start of the summer. Many Argentinians celebrate Punta del Este’s shores, a well-known tourist city from the neighbouring country, Uruguay.

For the ones that stay in the city, Navidad is a surprisingly low-key affair. Many people head up to the rooftop this time of the year and try to catch some nice tan.

Stores have special holiday sales. As the 24th gets closer, more and more presents are bought, wrapped and carefully hidden from excited children.

Some go to church before dinner for Mass, but it’s not a tradition all Argentinians practice. The custom is going to a family member’s house and having a big dinner around 9 or 10 p.m.

Christmas is the time for special foods that they wait all year long for and only eat on Christmas, like pionono. Like the Bouche de Noel, this sweet bread is rolled up and filled with layers of ham, tuna or veggies with a topping of cream cheese. There are several different kinds of pionono.

Dulce de leche is omnipresent all year in the South-American nation, and this holiday is not an exception. There is also pan dulce or Italian panettone (which are both like a fruit cake) for dessert.  

The dinner usually lasts until midnight. After dessert, the kids run outside to watch the fireworks people set off from the streets.

The adults follow with glasses of sparkling cider or champagne for the Christmas toast. When the fireworks finish, everyone goes back inside to find the presents left under the Christmas tree by Papa Noel, as he is otherwise known.

After midnight toast, some Argentinians go out and meet friends. Many bars are open to receive late-night customers ready to continue the party.

For tourists and lovers of the traditional dance, a tango show is a perfect way to pass the time on the 24th and 25th  nights. Some places offer a three-course meal as well as the show itself.

And after going wild on the 24th, the 25th is a designated day of rest: a lot of TV, reheated leftovers and the AC full blast in case of  overheating.


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