How Argentina Celebrates Christmas: 7 Best Traditions

a person with a christmas tree and title of blog post how argentina celebrates christmas

One of my favorite topics to talk about is: how Argentina celebrates Christmas. La Navidad, our Christmas in Argentina, is the best holiday to spend time with family.  

How does Argentina celebrate Christmas? In this post I want to tell you about our seven best traditions for la Navidad. The last one is my absolute favorite.

Pay attention to the images in this article, I will provide a list of Christmas words in Spanish for you to broaden your vocabulary and improve your speaking skills. Let’s get into it!

Christmas Decorations in Argentina

To talk about how Argentina celebrates Christmas I need to begin with the 8th of December, “el Día de la Inmaculada Concepción”. This day marks the beginning of the Holiday season since this is when families start decorating their homes.

Therefore, the first tradition that reflects how Argentina celebrates Christmas is decorating their homes on the 8th of December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. 

Modest Christmas decorations of Argentine homes

Christmas decorations in Argentina are modest, compared to decorations in countries like the United States, but still very pretty.

Families usually place a tall plastic tree in their living rooms. Artificial trees are more commonly used, since they can last many years. 

We decorate Christmas trees in Argentina with ornaments, lights, a star on the top, and a nativity scene (el pesebre) at the bottom. 

Houses are also decorated with candles, small figures of Papá Noel and reindeers, a wreath on the door, lights on the balcony and garlands. 

Even though many years ago houses were also decorated outside in Mar del Plata, my city, nowadays this doesn’t happen. Due to insecurity and thefts, people usually decorate their houses on the inside and keep their house front rather modest.

Christmas decorations around Argentina

Almost every major city around the country has a tall tree embellished with beautiful ornaments for everyone to enjoy. In Mar del Plata, you can find it on Plaza San Martín, the heart of the city. 

In Buenos Aires I highly recommend checking out the gorgeous Christmas tree in Galerías Pacífico shopping mall. My favorite was the one Swarovski decorated in 2010. 

However, the place where you’ll find the most outstanding Christmas deco in Argentina is very far from the capital Buenos Aires. It’s the charming town of Capioví. 

Visit Capioví to see the beautiful Christmas decorations made entirely from recyclables! And you might as well visit the Iguazú waterfalls that are only a few kilometers away. Check out this article to learn more about Capioví’s Christmas. 

How Argentina celebrates Christmas in Summer

Preparing the Menu for a Warm Christmas Eve

Christmas in Argentina happens during summer time. The heat can reach up to 40 degrees in some parts of the country. In my city, Mar del Plata, most people go to the beach before Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day.

Therefore, the second best tradition that shows how Argentina celebrates Christmas is preparing a menu for a warm Christmas Eve. Our main Christmas dinner happens during Christmas Eve, on December 24th at night. 

Forget about soups, hot chocolate and warm socks. In Argentina, we eat cold dishes for Christmas Eve! Our dessert usually comes with a scoop of ice cream, and we wear summer clothes with sandals. 

Families tend to prepare a menu of cold dishes like stuffed chicken, pionono (similar to a Swiss roll), matambre arrollado (stuffed rolled beef), and Russian salad.

For dessert, some families make a fruit salad and eat it with a scoop of helado de americana (ice cream). 

How Argentina Celebrates Christmas Early in the Morning

Staying up past midnight

The third best tradition that reflects how Argentina celebrates Christmas is to stay up past midnight. 

Christmas in Argentina doesn’t involve cozy pajamas or ugly sweaters. We dress up nicely for a fancy Christmas Eve and stay up past midnight to toast. 

At midnight we celebrate Christmas with champagne and watch the fireworks. 

Watching the fireworks

In some countries fireworks are saved for the New Year, but this isn’t the case in Argentina. The fourth best Christmas tradition in Argentina is to welcome Christmas Day with fireworks. 

You can watch beautiful firework displays all over the country if you stay up past midnight to celebrate the early hours of Christmas. 

The best place to watch the fireworks in Mar del Plata is in front of the central casino, by the ocean, and also in Playa Grande. 

In Buenos Aires you can watch the Christmas fireworks from rooftop restaurants, bars, and hotels. 

Saying hello to Papá Noel

When there’s kids in the family, this means that Papá Noel will pay a visit. This is the fifth best Christmas tradition that shows how Argentina celebrates Christmas: welcoming Papá Noel. 

One of my favorite parts of the night is to see my niece and nephew’s faces when they see Papá Noel (who is usually one of our family members in disguise). 

After Papá Noel leaves, we watch how the kids open their presents and then start exchanging gifts among adults.

Eating traditional Argentinian Christmas sweets 

After opening presents, we sit again and eat “la mesa dulce”. Feasting with traditional sweets is the sixth best Christmas tradition in Argentina.

The most popular Christmas sweets in Argentina are el mantecol (it’s like a semi-soft nougat made of peanut butter), el pan dulce (similar to the Italian panettone), raisins, nuts, chocolate and dry fruit. 

At the same time, families drink coffee or liquor to digest the food. In my family of Italian descent, we drink both coffee and limoncello, a digestive lemon liquor. 

How Argentina Celebrates Christmas in Mar del Plata

Going to the beach on Christmas Day in Mar del Plata

Mar del Plata is a coastal city and many citizens and tourists go to the beach on Christmas day. This is the seventh tradition and possibly my favorite one. 

After all that heavy eating the night before, there’s nothing better than to go for a nice swim in the refreshing Atlantic ocean on Christmas Day. 

Besides, this is a great opportunity to get a better tan, given that only a week later we celebrate New Year’s Eve wearing white. 

Conclusion

I want to know what you think about how Argentina celebrates Christmas. Comment below! To sum up, this is a list of the 7 best Christmas traditions in Argentina:

  1. Decorating the house on December 8th 
  2. Preparing a menu for a warm Christmas Eve
  3. Staying up past midnight
  4. Watching the fireworks
  5. Welcoming Papá Noel
  6. Eating traditional Argentinian Christmas sweets
  7. Going to the beach on Christmas Day

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I’m so happy you’re here! My name is Melany and I help language learners speak Argentine Spanish. I primarily teach Argentine slang and idioms, how to sound more natural and to speak Spanish with confidence.

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