If you came to Buenos Aires learning Spanish and that this is your first time spending Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere, the first thing that will stand out is the heat.
It’s summertime in Argentina and the days are getting hotter and hotter, so say goodbye to your Christmas sweaters, blankets and hot cocoa by the fire. You will definitely want to opt for your swimsuit and pool time after having walked throughout the city.
The guide to spending a traditional Christmas in Argentina while learning Spanish :
Before Christmas :
You will start hearing some Christmas vocabulary as people in the street, stores or even in Spanish class start talking about all the preparation and plans. Being around Buenos Aires at this time of the year when learning Spanish really allows you to immerse in the culture and tradition of the country as well as improving a specific vocabulary about Christmas season and celebrations. Before the D-Day people usually celebrate Christmas with friends and coworkers. For example, here at Expanish, we organize a Christmas party and as there are a lot of different nationalities, it is a good way to learn about other Christmas traditions while practicing your Spanish.
24th of December :
On the 24th people gather with their family. At Expanish, a lot of our students take the opportunity to practice their Spanish by choosing a homestay. This allows our students to spend Christmas with a local family and get a traditional experience of a typical Argentine Christmas. Usually, everyone brings something to eat. As it is summer, it is more common to eat an asado and cold dishes, rather than the hot dishes and Christmas hams you may be used to. When midnight rolls around everyone will have toast, drink cider, eat pan dulce and commence opening gifts! Christmas celebrations usually end around 2 AM but it wouldn’t be a proper Buenos Aires party without the younger generations heading to the “boliches” (clubs) to dance until the sunrise. Argentines truly like to party!
25th of December :
On the 25th most Argentines gather again in the afternoon (everyone needs a good sleep especially the ones that went clubbing) and eat either the leftovers from the night before or have an asado. Be aware that most public transports will not run on Christmas day, so my advice would be to plan in advance. If you choose to live in a homestay, this will allow you to meet even more people and practice your presentation skills in Spanish, by the end of the Christmas celebration you should be an expert and feel more confident talking in Spanish.
New Year’s Eve :
While in other countries it may typically be a night out on the town with friends to ring in the new year, New Year’s Eve in Argentina is a very family-centered holiday. Argentines gather with their family once again to have an asado and drink Malbec. It’s always best to have a friend or family member that has a rooftop host the New Year’s Eve party so that you can enjoy the fireworks at midnight, so don’t hesitate to ask around to your local friend if they have a “Terraza”. Again, it wouldn’t be a true party without the younger generation heading off to the boliches with their friends after midnight while the older crowd heads out to parties with their friends and family.
Activities and places to go to during Christmas in Buenos Aires as a foreigner learning Spanish :
Play the lottery and maybe treat yourself to a big money prize. Every year, Argentina organizes a Christmas Lottery called “Gordo de Navidad” where you could win this year 15.000.000 pesos!!!
For Christmas dinner: La Dorita in Palermo (Humboldt 1892) is a “parilla” restaurant with one of the most complete menu and famous for its high quality. It offers a great variety of meat such as a 400g piece of “Bife de lomo” (Beef tenderloin).
Christmas party: Kika Club in Palermo (Honduras 5339) is one of the most famous boliches in the city, there is no doubt you will have a good time there and maybe meet some new Porteño friends as this is a very popular social spot! This could be a good opportunity to learn slang called “lunfardo” which is used a lot by the young generation.
New Year’s dinner: If you want to celebrate the New Year in style, Casa Cruz in Palermo Viejo (Uriarte 1658) is the place for you. For more than 10 years, Casa Cruz has offered a wide variety of meat cuts and sides dishes as well as a very wide choice of wines, in an upscale yet cozy atmosphere. Another option could be to catch Tango Shows, many of which offer special dinner and show packages.
New Year’ Eve party: Club Shampoo, located in the heart of Recoleta and one of Buenos Aires’ most exclusive nightclubs is a great place to ring in the New Year. If nightclubs are not your thing, you can head to Palermo Hollywood where the streets are filled with local block parties with DJs and bands playing music, Porteños hosting asados and people enjoying the warm summer night to dance all night long until sunrise.
Expanish wishes you a “Feliz Navidad y Año Nuevo”!