Thursday, December 25, 2008

5 differences with Christmas in Buenos Aires

What is different about Christmas in Buenos Aires? Well this depends a lot on one's personal experiences. Here are a few of mine:

Weather: We have a sunny 80 degrees this morning. I just skyped my Mom and Dad in Massachusetts and they are enjoying a balmy 40 degrees with hopes of seeing the ground after some recent snow storms.

Food: Typical Christmas fixings here are Lechon (suckling pig in the photo) and ensalada russa (russian salad) which is potato, carrots, and peas mixed with mayonnaise. My family has always been non-traditional with our holiday meals and luckily this seems to be holding so far here. (I am not a big fan of ensalada russa.) Another item you see a lot of are Pan dulce, the holiday equivalent to the obligatory fruit cake. We bought ours in the neighborhood bakery, but if you happen over to Palermo I'd check out Sugar and Spice. They seem to be taking Pan dulces to a higher level.

Celebration: Here Christmas Eve is really the big to do, not so much Christmas day. Last year for example, I spent christmas eve at a friend's asado in Boedo. At the stroke of midnight, people start shooting off fireworks. This might be one reason why Santa, tracked by Norad, stopped in Cordoba and only did a fly by of Buenos Aires. Too much shrapnel in the air space. My other theory is the naughty index was a little too high here this year, but I haven't been able to confirm this yet. It's just a hunch.

Opening presents: For kids, the fireworks are more like the sound of the starting gun. Here they get to open their presents at midnight. None of this going to bed and waking up super early nonsense for them. I assume this is because Argentines are accustomed to eating dinner quite late, typically betwen 9-11pm. However, it seems adopting this custom on present opening would be a good idea judging from the number of my friends in the US who made comments on FaceBook about their kids not going to bed on time.

Silence: Ok, this is not a difference between home and here, but a common comment I get from those who call me is, "Where are you? outside!?" We live on the 5th floor of a street side apartment and when a bus passes, it sounds like we are next to the landing strip of an airport. Noise pollution is rampant in Buenos Aires. However during the holidays, the city and our neighborhood in particular clears out. Since we are at home this year, the silence is wonderful. The down side of this is relying on public transport, in particular on Christmas eve. I tried to take a bus back from the asado in Boedo and was nearly stranded.

Those are some differences that come to my mind. What differences stand out to you?

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