During Christmas the weather is warm in Argentina. But that in no way lessens the fun of the season.
In the stores, malls and on the streets preparations for Christmas Day begin much earlier, but in the houses December 8th is the day for decorations, and it is the tradition for families to do that together. Every house is decorated beautifully with lights and red and green decorations. Artificial trees are used to create the Christmas tree in every living room and are embellished with laces, balls, Papá Noel (Santa Clause) figures, colored lights, ornaments and small gifts. We have green trees as well as ones painted in white to simulate the snow. We also decorate natural trees from our gardens. The Nativity scene or “pesebre” is an important part of the Argentine Christmas decorations. The “pesebre” is placed close to the Christmas tree, and in many churches and religious schools you can attend a live pesebre performed by some of your neighbours…
Christmas here is an occasion for a get together with extended members of the family. On Christmas Eve, people go to local churches with their family to attend religious services. Thereupon, they visit each other’s home. There are joyous family reunions in every Argentine home. Every family prepare a savory meal, each member prepares what they are best at and they all take the food to the celebration. We all eat more than we can and at 00:00 we all gather at the table and have a toast: “¡Feliz Navidad!” (Merry Christmas). Right after that the little children and the not so little dads run outside to shoot fireworks while the ladies prepare the table with the sweet things: Pan dulce, turrón, garrapiñadas… At midnight on December 24th, the sounds of fireworks can be heard from everywhere. Opening of presents, placed under the Christmas tree from beforehand, is a must at midnight. Then family members and friends are kissed goodbye and everyone goes to bed. Many may prefer to spend the night away chatting or playing games. A wonderful tradition here is to light “globos”, colorful paper balloons that take off into the sky when lit from inside. If you visit Argentina during Christmas, you will be spellbound by the beauty of the numerous “globos” flying in the night sky.
On Christmas day, all the family gathers again. That’s the opportunity to get together with the part of the family you could not meet the previous night. Everybody is greeted ‘Feliz Navidad’, meaning ‘Merry Christmas’.
In Argentina, children also receive presents on January 6th, known as “Día de Reyes” (The Three Kings Day). On the eve of January 6th, Argentine kids place their shoes next to their Christmas Trees to be filled with presents by the Magi and also leave grass and water beside for the Magi’s camels.
Christmas in Argentina is very different from the northern countries, but if you happened to be here during celebrations, I am sure you will enjoy it!