Notes on an Argentinean Christmas

Traditionally, we put up the Christmas tree on December 8th, the Day of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, and put it away on January 6th until the next December.

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Women should wear pink undies for good luck on Christmas Eve. It has to be a present from someone, not bought. You never see so much pink underwear in the shop windows the rest of the year!

Luckily I’m not superstitious. If I were, I’d have had many nervous breakdowns over the years the day after Christmas when I realised I’d been wearing any colour but pink!

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We don’t use Christmas stockings to store the presents. We put them under the tree and open them at the stroke of midnight. It’s great fun, especially if there are children in the house.

This whole operation requires some logistics: someone is in charge of distracting the children while somebody else hastily brings the presents out of their hiding place. Then somebody cries “Look! Santa was here while you were outside!” while pointing at the presents. And everyone descends on the presents like Biblical locusts.

I wasn’t good at writing Santa a letter with my wish list. But I remember one year, I must have been four or five years old, when I got a set of plastic spades and buckets to play in the sand. I was gobsmacked. “WOW! How did Santa know we’re going to the beach???” I thought.

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The main event takes place on Christmas Eve, when families get together and eat and drink themselves silly. At 12 o’clock we toast, we hug and kiss and wish merry Christmas to every single person in the room – yes, one by one. Open the presents, drink some more and eat nuts, raisins, turrón (a kind of nougat), pan dulce (a distant cousin of the Italian panettone) and go outside to see the fireworks.

Pan dulce and assorted nuts and drinks

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Fireworks and firecrackers are legal in Argentina. You’re responsible for your own safety. If you’re an idiot an hurt yourself or others, you deal with the consequences (usually, a trip to the casualty room).

On Christmas Eve and New year’s Day, the sky is lit with fireworks. It’s beautiful -if noisy.

Fireworks seen from my parents’ garden

There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

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Published by

Ana

Hi, I'm Ana. I'm originally from Argentina but I'm currently living in Dallas (USA) with my British husband. I'd like to share my experiences as an expat and as a traveller.

13 thoughts on “Notes on an Argentinean Christmas”

  1. I haven’t had an Argentinean Christmas in 8 years, now… 😦 I have just been there for two months but it would be great to spend the season with the family. THe only thing really stopping us is the heat during this time of the year – I don’t think I can take it any more… I prefer the -10 we’re having right now here in the NL than the 36+ they’re having in C’ba. right now!
    Have a great Christmas and enjoy!!

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    1. Hello and welcome back! I feel the same about the heat but I don;t hink I can take sub-zero temperatures either! Speaking of which, my hubby is stuck in London at the moment because of the bad weather conditions 😦

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      1. Yes, I think that most of European airports haven’t been operating these past couple of days due to the weather conditions. I hope your husband can fly back soon and get there in time for Christmas!

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  2. You know, I enjoy the holiday celebrations here in Argentina, but one thing I just can’t get used to are the fireworks on Christmas. For me, Christmas is supposed to be peaceful, and the earsplitting noise of firecrackers and fireworks detracts from the celebration, in my opinion. Celebrating the holidays in the summer still feels rather odd, too, but I’m growing accustomed to it!

    A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Ana!

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  3. Ana, excellent! What a great description of Christmas in Argentina. This will only be my second Christmas here, I didn’t know about the pink underwear part yet, but I kind of dig the fireworks, in a “I hope someone doesn’t die, ohhh that was a big one” kind of way.

    I hope you have a wonderful Christmas (in the states?).

    Un beso,

    Wendy

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    1. I’m glad you enjoyed my post 🙂 I like fireworks too (except the noise)
      I’ll be spending Christmas in Buenos Aires 🙂 🙂 🙂
      Feliz Navidad para vos tambien.

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  4. I love your post! I always am intrigued by how different cultures celebrate holidays, especially holidays I don’t celebrate. That sounds like a lot of fun and I love that Santa knew you were going to the beach! Haha. Happy holidays! Have fun in B.A.!

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  5. Hi Ana! I hope your husband will be with you soon! How strange, fireworks for Christmas! As for the underwear, here, you’re supposed to wear red underwear for New Year’s Eve, I wonder who invented the “tradition” 🙂
    ¡Feliz Navidad!

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