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Expat Exchange - Christmas in Argentina
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Mar del Plata, Argentina


Christmas in Argentina

By Joshua Wood, LPC

William Russell
William Russell

Summary: Explore the festive traditions of Christmas and New Year in Argentina, where the celebrations are marked by special foods, church ceremonies, the exchange of gifts, and an array of cultural customs.

The holiday season in Argentina is a festive time that combines South American warmth with traditional holiday customs. For expats and digital nomads spending their first Christmas and New Year's in Argentina, it's an opportunity to experience the holidays with a unique twist. From the bustling streets of Buenos Aires to the tranquil Andean villages, Argentina offers a diverse range of celebrations that reflect its rich cultural tapestry.

Christmas and New Year's Celebrations in Argentina

In Argentina, Christmas and New Year's are celebrated with a fervor that matches the country's passionate spirit. The predominantly Catholic nation observes these holidays with a blend of religious reverence and joyous festivities. As the Southern Hemisphere basks in the warmth of summer, Argentinians take to the streets, beaches, and parks to enjoy the season.

Traditional Holiday Festivities

Leading up to Christmas, cities and towns across Argentina are adorned with lights and decorations. Nativity scenes, known as 'pesebres', are a common sight. In the weeks before Christmas, families and friends gather for 'las posadas', a series of processions and parties that commemorate Mary and Joseph's search for shelter. Caroling and fireworks are also part of the pre-Christmas excitement.

While Santa Claus, or 'Papá Noel' as he's known in Argentina, is a recognized figure, he takes on a more relaxed persona that suits the summer climate. Children eagerly await his arrival, hoping to find gifts under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning.

Gift-Giving and Holiday Shopping

Gift-giving is a cherished part of the holiday tradition in Argentina. Markets and shops offer a variety of goods, from handcrafted items to high-tech gadgets. Popular gifts include local crafts, books, clothing, and toys for children. The act of giving is often accompanied by heartfelt messages and well-wishes for the festive season.

Festive Foods and Desserts

Argentinian holiday cuisine is a feast for the senses. Christmas Eve dinner, 'la cena de Nochebuena', is the main event, featuring dishes like roasted pork, 'vitel toné' (sliced veal in a creamy tuna sauce), and 'empanadas'. Sweets such as 'pan dulce' (fruitcake) and 'turrón' (nougat) are holiday staples. For New Year's, lentils are traditionally eaten for good fortune, and the stroke of midnight is often marked with a toast of sparkling wine.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Christmas Eve is the heart of the holiday celebration. Families and friends come together for a late-night dinner that often extends into the early hours of Christmas Day. At midnight, fireworks light up the sky, marking the birth of Jesus. Many people attend 'Misa de Gallo' (Rooster's Mass) either at midnight or on Christmas Day to honor the religious significance of the holiday.

Church Attendance

Church services are an integral part of the holiday season for many Argentinians. While attendance varies, a significant number of people participate in religious activities, with special services held on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Churches are beautifully decorated, and the atmosphere is one of communal celebration and reflection.

Notable Destinations for Holiday Festivities

Certain towns and neighborhoods are renowned for their holiday spirit. Buenos Aires, with its grand avenues, features impressive light displays and festive markets. The historic neighborhood of San Telmo is particularly charming with its antique shops and cobblestone streets transformed into a holiday wonderland. In the province of Córdoba, the town of Villa General Belgrano is famous for its Christmas markets and Alpine-style architecture, offering a unique holiday experience.

As the holiday season unfolds in Argentina, expats and digital nomads will find themselves immersed in a celebration that is both familiar and new. The warmth of the Argentine people, combined with the country's festive traditions, creates a holiday atmosphere that is unforgettable. Whether it's sharing a meal with new friends, watching fireworks under the summer sky, or simply enjoying the local customs, spending Christmas and New Year's in Argentina is a unique and enriching experience.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


William Russell
William Russell

William Russell
William Russell

Mar del Plata, Argentina

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