Joy and happiness are the two terms that describe Christmas all over the world. The same goes for South America as well. Here, the highlight of the season is the creche or manger or presepio. The term presepio has originated from the Hebrew word presepium, representing the bed of straw upon which Jesus first slept in Bethlehem. Since Christmas in South America arrives in summer, the celebrations can be viewed on the streets. Fire crackers, brass bands, displays and dancing are the highlights. Notably, a Christmas tree is not popular in South America. Read on to find the Christmas customs and traditions followed in different South American countries.
Christmas Celebrations In South America
Christmas represents a family celebration in Brazil. Santa Claus is less known, but Father Christmas is known as Papa Noel. A folk play, Los Pastores (The Shepherds) is popular in North Brazil. Christmas Eve marks the most significant day in the season. 'Misa del Gallo' (the Rooster's Mass) is celebrated in the churches. The evenings are illuminated by fireworks in Brasilia, San Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The Christmas supper includes chicken, turkey, pork, ham, colored rice, vegetables and fruits, served with beer.
The diverse culture in Argentina gives way to celebrate Christmas in multifarious styles. People greet 'Feliz Navidad!' (Merry Christmas) to each other. Flowers, lights, candles and ornaments are used to decorate homes. Gifts, banquets, picnics, fireworks, cakes and champagne can be commonly seen here. Lighting globos, colorful balloons lit from inside, in the sky is a tradition to be admired. The Christmas feast consists of roasted turkey, roasted pork, stuffed tomatoes, mince pies, bread and puddings. Ninos envuettas, made of steak cut in square pieces of 3 inches and stuffed with minced meat, onions, hard-boiled eggs and spices is a hot delicacy.
Christmas in Venezuela comes with joy, fun and festivity. Families showcase their respective pesebres i.e. especially and beautifully designed nativity scene, on December 16. The custom of attending the carol services during Christmas is still followed in Venezuela. Fire crackers and bells are used to awaken people on Christmas Eve dawn. Nochebuena de Navidad is the last mass on Christmas Eve, after which people indulge themselves in delicious delicacies prepared back home. Children wait for their gifts and presents to be brought by "El Nino Jesus" (Baby Jesus).
Mexico shares its Christmas traditions with those of Spain. Preparations for the day begin as many as nine days in advance. La Posada, a religious procession that involves re-enacting of the search for shelter by Joseph and Mary, is the main highlight of the festival. A piñata party is also organized, especially for the kids and adults too enjoy the act. The dinner consists of bunuelos, tamales and atole or champurrado. Christmas in Mexico is celebrated until February 2.
Christmas in Chile comes as a reunion for friends, relatives and children. The Chilean Catholics observe Novena, nine days of prayers and fasts, prior to the festival. Due to small chimneys in Chile, the Santa Claus is shorter in size and is named Viejito Pascuero or Old Man Christmas. 'Pesebre' i.e. little clay figures are laid beneath the Christmas tree. People greet each other by saying Feliz Navidad y un Prospero Anc Nuevo, which means Merry Christmas and a very Prosperous New Year.