There’s no denying that the globalization of the culture of the holiday season means that many Christmas traditions are universal. But as always, Buenos Aires finds a way to give you a unique experience no matter what time of the year you are here. What’s more, the commercialization of the holiday season means that sometimes you feel like all religious significance is lost. Foto Ruta, for example, spent last Christmas here with on of our best friends and their Jewish family. Let me tell you, it was one of the best Christmases yet! Here are some of our favorite things about Christmas in Buenos Aires that can anyone can appreciate (or not, if you hate mayonnaise like I do) regardless of their religious affiliation.
1. Nochebuena Fixed Menus
The word for Christmas Eve in Buenos Aires is “Nochebuena,” and for those that don’t celebrate with a family meal at home, restaurants throughout the city offer fixed menus that, while they are expensive, are quite extensive and extravagant. Buenos Aires is a city that has mastered the art of ambience when it comes to restaurants and bars, and Christmas Eve is no exception. Many restaurants will have live music, excellent wine pairings, and dishes you wouldn’t see any other day of the year. Oh, and don’t worry – if you are one of those people that thinks going out to a restaurant for Thanksgiving or Christmas meals is weird and a sign that your family doesn’t give a crap, this is actually a very common way to celebrate here. For a reference of good restaurants in Buenos Aires, see Guia Oleo.
Foto Ruta is always a bit disappointed by the fact that Argentina’s Independence Day is during their winter and that no fireworks are involved. Luckily, Christmas and New Years fill that void in our porteña life, because fireworks are set off on both holidays, all over the city. We’re pretty sure nobody can be sad while watching fireworks, so this element of Christmas in Buenos Aires smooths over any tension caused by fights between in-laws or inappropriate comments by your crazy aunt.
1. Ham, Bread, Mayonnaise and Egg = Christmas Delicacy
If you are entertaining Argentineans around Christmas time and are too busy to cook something extravagant and don’t have the money to go out for a fixed menu, do not fear: there is a very simple dish that requires the most basic and yet, beloved ingredients in Buenos Aires. It is basically a roll of bread with mayonnaise, egg, and ham wrapped into it. Mmmmm
1. Winter Decorations Even Though It’s Summer
We love winter-inspired Christmas decorations and music. So even though it is summer here, we’re not too bothered by the fact that because Christmas is only about consumerism these days, Santa-Clause, snowflakes, and fake snow are all over the city, reminding people they need to buy, buy, buy. We fall under the spell of the Christmas spirit every year and am glad that Buenos Aires has embraced the winter vib, because Santa on a beach just doesn’t make sense. Check out Father Christmas Buenos Aires style… this was a Foto Taken by one of recent Foto Ruta participants!
1. Pan Dulce
Pan dulce is a special species of bread that is eaten around the holiday season in Buenos Aires. As its name implies, it is quite sweet, and is stuffed with raisins, other dried fruit, nuts, chocolate (usually no chocolate actually, which I can’t understand). Pan dulce is an absolute must for any holiday table and most homes seem to have leftovers sitting around for months, which they love to nibble at after meals, so if you are attending any sort of Christmas-related event and are at a loss for what to bring, Pan Dulce will be well-received no matter how much they already have. The only concern is that it is strangely expensive, sometimes costing as much as 100 pesos. So if you’re like me, you may think a bottle or two of wine is a better investment.
By Foto Ruta friend Gretchen Gardner