Christmas Celebration in South America (Latin America)

How is Celebrate Christmas in South America

Christmas in South America is celebrated with a rich blend of traditions influenced by both European customs brought by Spanish and Portuguese colonizers and indigenous cultures. While Christmas traditions can vary from one South American country to another, some common elements include:

Nativity Scenes

Nativity scenes, known as "pesebres" or "nacimientos," are a central part of Christmas celebrations across South America. These scenes often feature intricate depictions of the Holy Family, shepherds, angels, and the Three Wise Men.

Christmas Decorations

Homes, streets, and towns are beautifully decorated with festive lights, ornaments, and Christmas trees. Many South American countries have their unique ornaments and decorations.

Midnight Mass

Attending the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve is a significant tradition in South America, with many people gathering at churches to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve, or "Nochebuena," is the most important night of the holiday season. Families come together for a festive meal, and the menu can vary by country. In some places, traditional dishes like roasted pork, tamales, and panettone are popular choices.


Exchanging gifts is an integral part of Christmas celebrations in South America. While the timing of gift-giving may vary by country, many children eagerly anticipate receiving presents from "Papá Noel" (Father Christmas) or the "Niño Jesús" (Baby Jesus).

Fireworks and Parades

Many South American countries celebrate Christmas with fireworks and parades. In some places, these celebrations can be quite elaborate and include traditional dances and music.


Caroling is a popular tradition, with groups of carolers singing traditional Christmas carols, known as "villancicos" or "agüinaldos," in the community.

Acts of Charity

South Americans often engage in acts of charity during the Christmas season, including donating to those in need and supporting local charities and community organizations.


In some South American countries, the holiday season extends to the Feast of the Epiphany, or "Día de los Reyes" (Three Kings' Day) on January 6th. This day is marked by the exchange of gifts and the celebration of the visit of the Three Wise Men to the baby Jesus.

Local Traditions

Each South American country may have its own unique Christmas traditions, influenced by its cultural heritage. For example, in Peru, the "Fiesta de la Candelaria" in February is a colorful celebration that involves parades, dances, and music.

Warm Weather Celebrations

Since Christmas falls during the Southern Hemisphere's summer season, many South American countries have outdoor celebrations, such as beach parties and barbecues.

Religious and Indigenous Influences

In some regions, indigenous customs and beliefs may be intertwined with Christmas celebrations, creating a unique blend of traditions.

Christmas in South America is a time for family, tradition, and the celebration of cultural diversity. The combination of religious customs, vibrant decorations, and the incorporation of indigenous and regional influences makes the holiday season a colorful and joyous time throughout the continent.

Christmas In South America or Latin America is predominantly a religious occassion. The Christmas celebrations here are inspired mainly from Roman Catholic traditions.

The focus of the celebrations here is the "Presepio" (manger). In every home, the Nativity Scene is beautifully constructed and displayed. Often an entire room is devoted to it. A typical Nativity Scene includes the baby Jesus in his manger at Bethlehem, with other tiny figures of Joseph, Mary and other shepherds. An elaborate background is also constructed with a beautiful mountain landscape and the Three Wise Men crossing the desert on their camels.

The Christmas traditions of South Americans bear the imprint of their predecessors, the Europeans and Native Americans, as also the increasing influence of American culture. The customs vary in different parts of the continent.

In Chile, the southwestern nation of South America, the festivities are church and family oriented. Devout Chilean Catholics observe the "Novena", nine days of prayer and fasting before Christmas. On Christmas Eve, they attend the "Misa del Gallo" (Midnight Mass) with family members and thereupon, relish a sumptuous Christmas Eve dinner consisting of turkey and other delicious dishes of salads, seafood, and olives. Deserts always include Pan de Pascua, a sweet Christmas bread, along with fruit, cake and cookies. Here Santa Clause is known as "Viejo Pascuero"(Easter Old Man), who is believed to drop presents through the window.

In Argentina, Christmas is the time for family gatherings. Extended members of individual families come together on Christmas Eve and enjoy a lip-smacking Christmas dinner. Dinner here comprises mainly of pork, turkey and other delectable dishes accompanied by drinks like cider, beer, and juice. Many families attend the Midnight Mass in local churches. At midnight, adults join in the toast ceremony and then dance together while kids go out to see the fireworks ushering in Christmas Day. After this elder people pass the night in chatting and playing games while children go to bed but not before opening the presents gathered under the Christmas tree.

In Brazil, Christmas traditions are similar to USA or UK. A traditional Christmas Dinner menu in the country consists of chicken, turkey, ham, rice, salad, pork, fresh and dried fruits, often with beer. Those less fortunate satisfy themselves with just chicken and rice. Children believe in "Papai Noel" as the bringer of their presents.

Christmas in South America (video)

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