I have a geography degree so you can believe me when I tell you that Argentina is in the Southern Hemisphere. I know, Company. I understand that you do not care. But it is important because that greatly effects how Argentines celebrate Christmas.
It's important because it's hot as balls in Argentina in December. It's the middle of the summer. I am sure that we have all seen the picture of Australians surfing and sunbathing on Christmas Day. Well, it's the same in Argentina. Many people retreat to air conditioned places or sit in the shade and sip cool beverages to beat the heat. For many church services take up the bulk of the day. And I don't know if you've ever been in an old church, I mean a REALLY old church, but they are stuffy. They always have those two impossibly overmatched ceiling fans turning slowly way up in the top of the cathedral ceiling. I always wonder why they even bother to turn them on because they are obviously too small to move the volume of air required for such a big room and they are always turning at a super slow setting that is way below "low." I mean, why bother? That is a total waste of electricity. All they do is add to the ambiance, and quite frankly that is not the kind of ambiance that I would want to foster. But whatever. So that is what is staring you in the face if you are in Argentina for Christmas. Long Mass in a hot church, and an even hotter sun beating down on you and your wool suit once you are done.
For Christmas dinner the people of Argentina often turn outside. Many times they will eat out in a courtyard, which is sort of neat. And often what is served in this outdoor setting is something that we would consider exotic, especially for Christmas dinner. Things like peacock, a suckling pig, or cubed steak stuffed with all sorts of things. How strange, but it's got way more flare than turkey or ham or and Hungry Man TV dinner or whatever you eat for Christmas. It's very South American I think. And so is the after dinner activities.
After dinner most of the adults proceed to dance the night away, while the kids go outside and light fireworks. See, there is something about fireworks that just goes so well with summer. So if Christmas is in the summer for you, why not light up the night sky. I am sure that lots of kids light off their own fireworks, which is fun too. Nothing celebrates the birth of Christ like blowing off your little finger. Or maybe blowing your face off. Or lighting something on fire with an errant bottle rocket. 'Tis the season I guess. You had better watch out kids. You might catch your Christmas tree on fire, what with all that cotton lying about. Wait, what? Cotton? What the hell are you talking about Big Dave? I know that is what you are thinking. Let's talk about it.
My favorite thing about Christmas in Argentina, other than the fireworks, is that many families decorate their Christmas tree with big tufts of cotton to simulate snow. It's not like Argentina is totally devoid of snow, it's just that there is no snow there in the middle of December, so they try to simulate it. Which I think is cool but totally unnecessary. If you have Christmas in summertime then you should not try to make it winter. I wouldn't be surprised if this was because they watch too much American and European TV, but still. I think it's sort of cool that they try even if it's wholly unnecessary. Other decorations that you will find in Argentina include Father Christmas' boots placed outside the door, lots of red and green garland, and of course the ubiquitous Nativity scenes. They must have been hanging out with the French this year.
So if you are into heat and want to spend your Christmas a-wassailing on the beach, then Argentina is for you. I just don't want to hear you complaining when you don't have snow or sleigh rides or any of that sort of stuff. Because you are not supposed to, okay? You are supposed to have dancing and lifeguards and a snow cone for dessert as fireworks whiz by the side of your head. That's what you get for Christmas in Argentina. You don't even get gifts. Gifts aren't generally exchanged until the Epiphany on January 6. So don't complain about that either. Because if you wanted a US Christmas you should have gone to Baltimore instead of Buenos Aires. So there.