Christmas in Buenos Aires have a very different atmosphere than many cities in the Northern Hemisphere, for example Chicago, my hometown. In Chicago, Christmas is almost stereotypical. It is freezing cold outside, there is almost always a lot of snow, everywhere is decorated for the holidays and everyone is in the holiday spirit!
In Buenos Aires, the atmosphere is a bit different… First, December is in the middle of summer in Buenos Aires and it is very hot, humid and sunny. Second, the city is very quiet as many porteños (Buenos Aires residents) are travelling for summer vacation. Many people prefer to get out of the city and head towards the beaches near Buenos Aires (like in Punta del Este of Uruguay or Mar del Plata, Argentina) or south to Patagonia to enjoy more temperate climates (like in Bariloche or Calafate, Argentina). That being said, there are still many porteños and tourists who stick out the heat and celebrate the holidays in the city! We have covered some Argentine Christmas traditions in the past as well as many of the typical holiday foods in Argentina.
Christmas in Buenos Aires
This year I have tried my best to get in the spirit by decorating my apartment with Christmas decorations that I have purchased at various supermercados (supermarkets). I have had the best luck finding decorations in the larger supermercados, for example Coto or Carrefour. On Nochebuena (Christmas Eve), mis amigos extranjeros (my foreign friends) and I will have our own Christmas Eve celebration on the patio of my apartment building. Many apartments in Buenos Aires have common areas that you can reserve for parties and Christmas Eve presented a perfect opportunity to utilize it!
Christmas eve night we are planning on attending the midnight mass at Catedral Metropolitana (San Martín 27, Microcentro; next to Plaza de Mayo) where former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, led mass until being chosen as the new pontiff. If we don’t end up making it to the Catedral, we will watch the numerous fireworks that go off at midnight on Christmas Eve! Later in the night we plan to go to one of the many boliches (night clubs) in Buenos Aires. Many begin to open around 3 a.m. for Christmas Eve after parties. On Christmas day many businesses are closed until late in the day. Therefore my friends and I plan on nursing our wounds from the night before by exchanging small gifts and spending time by the pool to escape the heat!
One important note for visitors during Christmas: public transportation is very limited starting around 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Be careful not to get stranded too far away from home later in the night!