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Celebrating Christmas in Brazil and Argentina

December 3, 2019 | About Us

The Festive season in the Southern Hemisphere

As the festive celebrations approach and everyone gets ready for Christmas, we look back on our roots with a hint of nostalgia for our own little traditions at this time of year.

Globalisation has made all countries come together and get closer in many aspects, and Brazil and Argentina aren’t an exception to this. This means that many traditions that have an origin in other places have made an appearance in our home countries, making the festivities a bit more similar to those we are used to seeing on television.

Christmas Tree in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Image credit: TripSavvy via Pinterest

Christmas Tree in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Image credit: TripSavvy via Pinterest

Still, this doesn’t mean that Christmas back in Argentina and Brazil can’t be unique and different. They are a whole experience on their own.

So here it is… Christmas in the Summer

To start, it is the summer season in the southern hemisphere. That is, in itself, a little bit of a shock if we look at it from the UK’s perspective. Because of this, outdoor grills known as Asados are common on Christmas Day, as well as cold salads.

Classic Parrillada. Image credit: The Kitchn via Pinterest

Classic Asado. Image credit: The Kitchn via Pinterest

Decorations, on the other hand, are very similar to those you will find here, but they are often a reason for jokes amongst the locals, as the wintery and cosy look of these don’t really match the weather. Understandably, some people will just be more into getting a tan than getting into the spirit of Christmas.

Religious Roots and Traditions

Also, celebrations back home have a religious origin as they are heavily influenced by European traditions. These have left a mark in the modern version of the celebrations, despite not being so religiously oriented these days.

Image of Pesebre. Image credit: Traveling Dany via Pinterest

Image of Pesebre. Image credit: Traveling Dany via Pinterest

One of the signs of this influence is the pesebre in Spanish, or presépio in Portuguese. This is the name given to the Nativity scene, which is usually set up near the Christmas Tree and in local churches. Another of these religion-influenced traditions is the Misa de Gallo or Missa do Galo on the 24th, a traditional Christmas mass that happens at midnight.

Actually, it is surprising for some cultures to find out that the big celebration takes place on the night before Christmas, rather than on 25th December (which is more like a relaxing day when families get together and eat the leftovers from the night before). Boxing Day doesn’t even exist at all!

The Importance of Family

However, the most important side of the festive season in Brazil and Argentina is the whole family getting together. And when we say the whole family, we mean all of it, including all the cousins and uncles and everybody else you may be related to.

Fireworks in Buenos Aires. Image credit: TheBubble

Fireworks in Buenos Aires. Image credit: TheBubble

The family will enjoy their dinner together on the 24th. They might also choose to go out to see the big firework displays in bigger cities, which have become a big tradition over the years.

Despite the religious origins, Santa (or should we say Papá Noel) visits South American countries too, and families will gather together again to open presents and to continue enjoying the feasts on the 25th.

Food Classics

Although festive food traditions can vary from country to country (and even town to town!), some elements remain the same. It is common to eat roast turkey and other pork and ham dishes as well as grilled meats and cold salads. In Brazil, almost everything will be served with rice cooked with raisins and ‘farofa’, while tuna makes a bigger appearance in Argentina.

Traditional Panettone. Image credit: Hugo Aitken via Pinterest

Traditional Panettone. Image credit: Hugo Aitken via Pinterest

When it comes to Christmas dessert, the European influence becomes obvious once again, as the traditional Panettone is widely enjoyed in both countries along with other sweet treats.

Have you enjoyed Christmas in Brazil or Argentina? Don’t forget to tell us your experience via our social media channels on Facebook and Instagram.