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Christmas in Argentina is a surprisingly low key affair, lacking the pomp, ceremony and celebrations of the holidays in other areas. It has much to do with falling right in the middle of summer, the year coming to its close and the fact that it really only lasts for a day and a half. That said, there are still lots of ways to enjoy Christmas in Argentina and here are just a few.
This is a pretty standard activity at Christmas across the globe, but perhaps you didn’t know that Argentine children are among very the few in South America who still write letters to Santa! Take the kids to see Old Saint Nick in one of the many shopping malls located in cities around the country for a reminder of the holidays at home.
There is not much that is hugely festive about Christmas in Argentina, but a tango show is something that captivates and entertains all year round. A tango show is the perfect way to pass the time if you are in Argentina over the 24th and 25th, especially in Buenos Aires where the biggest and best shows take place. Many restaurants and bars are closed over the two day Christmas stint, but tango shows at Madero Tango offer a three course meal as well as the show itself, so is a good option for those who aren’t hooked up with some locals to celebrate with.
A blessing in disguise, Argentina is decidedly anti-consumerist in many senses, mainly because there just isn’t the access down here to products and retail that there is in other countries, and anything that is manufactured here or imported is much more costly than the equivalent abroad. This means that you can experience the holiday season free from the stress of Christmas shopping and instead focus on exploring this amazing country in all its glory.
Christmas and New Year’s Eve are surprisingly similar here in Argentina, and it is common practice to toast the passing of Christmas Eve into Christmas Day at midnight on the 24th. Gathering together with family is how most Argentines spend the night of the 24th, and the champagne corks will pop as the clock strikes 12. Toasting is also a big event in Argentina, so make sure to look people in the eyes when you say cheers, or you risk seven years of bad sex, or so the legend goes.
Nochebuena, or Christmas Eve on the 24th, is the main event in Argentina. Similar to Spanish customs where the 25th takes a backseat, the 24th is when everything happens. Dinner with family is usually par for the course, but after the midnight toast, everyone is free to go out and meet friends. This usually happens at one of the many bars that open to receive late-night party-goers, who while the hot night away merrily until the wee hours.
And after going wild on the 24th, the 25th is a designated day of rest. Essentially the only real day that Argentines have off over the holidays, as many have to work on the day of the 24th, Christmas Day is for nursing hangover and pumping the AC full blast in case you overheat. This year the 25th falls on a Monday, so at least you’ll have a three day weekend!
Forget about turkey and all the trimmings, Christmas meals in Argentina are an altogether more chilled affair, literally. Cold food is about all you’ll be able to manage, given that temperatures around this time of year will often climb into the 40s, regardless of what part of the country you’re in. Expect Russian salad, lots of meat and, bizarrely, plenty of mayonnaise.
Christmas is pretty underwhelming in Argentina, given its short life span. People are counting the days until the year ends and they can take off to the coast for the summer, so Christmas in many ways is just another event in the lead up to the big occasion that is New Year’s. But hey, if you’re one of those people who isn’t a fan of Christmas visit the southern cone and forget all about the booze, parties and hangovers of Christmas in the northern hemisphere.
Unlike our northern neighbours, Christmas in Argentina falls at a peculiar time of year, when the school and work year comes to a close and the summer holidays being. So whereas it’s a time of holidays and celebration in the rest of the world, the lead up to Christmas in Argentina can be a time of stress for many, and you will often hear people say how they can’t wait for the year to end. New beginnings are always welcome, and nowhere more so than down here in Argentina.
An unlikely consideration in the northern hemisphere, where it’s all winter coats and warm fires, but here in Argentina, Christmas is one of the best times to head up to the rooftop pool or out to the coast to catch some rays. Argentines are avid sunbathers, and if you don’t have a pool, it’s perfectly acceptable to go to the park in your bikini. Just make sure and wear sunscreen as the sun is incredibly strong, and you don’t want to spend Christmas complaining of sunburn.