With traditions influenced by the warm temperatures of the southern hemisphere, the holidays in Argentina are truly a family and friends affair. Traditions in the north of the country – more heavily influenced by a sub-tropical climate and more deep-rooted ancestral traditions – can differ from those in the larger cities and the ones in the south of the country.
Much like in the United States, food is a big part of the holiday season and it’s customary for families to gather on Christmas Eve to share a traditional meal. Some families opt for the classic Argentine asado (barbeque), but roasted pork, roasted suckling pig or even turkey are also popular. Another classic dish that is prepared for the holidays is vitel toné, a Piedmontese summer dish of sliced veal covered in a tuna mayonnaise sauce that was introduced to Argentina by the successive waves of Italian immigrants that settled in the country.
Other holiday classics that are always found at the dinner table for Christmas and New Year’s include dried fruits and nuts, turrones (nougat), pan dulce (more commonly known in the U.S. as panettone), as well as cider.
Following dinner, Papa Noel (Santa Claus) comes at the stroke of midnight loaded with gifts, and the gift exchanges begin by the Christmas tree.
New Year’s Eve is also spent in the company of family and close friends around the dinner table. After ringing in the New Year, it is common to go and visit other friends and relatives or meet up with them at a bar or a nightclub to continue the celebrations. It is also customary for families to spend New Year’s by the seaside, as the New Year also marks the beginning of the summer vacation period in Argentina.
The holiday season ends with Reyes (Three Kings Day) on January 6th. To celebrate this holiday, families share a rosca de Reyes – a panettone type bread that’s shaped like a crown with bits of dried and/or caramelized fruits. The night before Reyes, kids will leave out their shoes before going to bed for the Kings to fill with presents. Some kids will even leave out sweets for the Kings as well as water and food for the camels.
Travelers looking to experience the holidays in Argentina and get a taste of how the locals enjoy the beginning of the southern hemisphere summer can spend a few days exploring the cultural attractions and vibrant nightlife of Buenos Aires, Argentina’s sophisticated capital, before heading down to bustling Mar del Plata, the country’s largest seaside resort. Those looking for a quieter vibe will enjoy the peaceful charms of Pinamar and Cariló, two beach towns set amongst pine and eucalyptus forests along the Atlantic Coast.
Additional information on travel to Argentina is available at: argentina.travel
Photography by: Visit Argentina