Holidays in Argentina are very important times to be around loved ones. While many of these holidays may be celebrated in similarly all around the world, there are some traditions that may be unique to Argentina. A good thing to know about Argentine culture before we get into the details of the holidays is that 92% of the people in Argentina were traditionally Catholic immigrants from Europe, and the national religion is Catholicism. However, now less than 20% of the population practices Catholicism regularly. The holidays we list here are only a handful of what is actually celebrated.
Here is the calendar for the Argentine traditional Holidays:
January 1st: “Año nuevo”
In Argentina, New Year’s eve is extremely important but New Year’s day is just as important because that is when you get to spend the day with your family and friends eating all the leftovers. As a tourist, you will find everything is closed so you might want to take this opportunity and explore the different walkable areas around where you are staying.
January 6th: “Los Tres Reyes Magos”
There is a tall tale that says that the three wise men go house to house and leave presents for each child. Children will leave their shoes outside to let the wise men know how many children are in the house and a present will be by each shoe the next morning. What’s nice about this holiday is it also is a good way to end the holiday season, especially for children. The parents say that the three wise men are following stars to the houses and children will leave out grass and waters for the camels. Some neighborhoods have parades, or the 3 wise men will be walking around during the day, similar to how Santa is around during Christmas.
End of January: Folklore Festival in Córdoba (Cosquín)
This Argentine music festival began in 1961. Traditionally it was only Argentine Folk music, and while it still focuses on traditional music, it also features tango, acoustic, and international music. The 9-day music festival was the cause of a boom in popularity of folklore music in the 60s and 70s and today it is still considered one of the most important music festivals in South America.
End of February: Carnaval
One of the most exciting events is Carnaval. This is celebrated in various parts of the world such as Spain and Brazil. In Argentina, especially in the province of Entre Ríos, we celebrate at the end of the month of February. The exact dates vary every year since it depends on Semana Santa (the week leading up to Easter). You can find out the dates by searching for “Carnaval Argentina” and add the year.
Semana Santa y Pascuas
If you are in Argentina for Easter you will soon realize that Easter here is about the chocolate. We don’t dye eggs and hide them around the house and we are not so inclined on bunnies either. Easter is for being around family and friends and sharing a meal along with some chocolate eggs.
Something else to note is that the four day weekend of Easter is a great excuse for lots of Argentine families to travel around the country.
March 1st: Día del trabajador
This day is a public holiday and we honor the workers that died this same day but in 1886 while they pleaded for better working conditions in the city of Chicago, Illinois.
March 4th: Vendimia Mendoza’s grape Harvest festival
This holiday started as a way to give back to the Patron Saint of Vineyards, the Virgin of Carrodilla. The people of Mendoza had finally harvested their crops and could now relax and enjoy the work they had done, and thank Saint Carrodilla. The holiday has come a long way since then with the celebrations including a parade, free wine samples, and even a beauty pageant where they crown “Queen of Vendimia”.
April 2nd: Día del Veterano y de Los Caídos en la Guerra de Malvinas
This day commemorates the day in 1982 when the Argentine troops landed in las Islas Malvinas with the mission of winning back the sovereignty of that territory which had been occupied by the British since 1833. Unfortunately, this is a sad day for our country since that battle was lost along with the lives of around 650 soldiers.
25 de Mayo: National Day
This is one of the most important holidays in Argentina. It is celebrated as Argentina’s independence day but is actually celebrating a series of events that lead up to the May Revolution and ultimately Argentina’s independence from Spain. The day is celebrated with the family, though there is a gathering downtown where you can go to hear speeches given by government officials. Families will gather and eat locro (a corn-based stew), one of the national dishes of Argentina and perhaps have some churros and pastelitos de batata (sweet potatoe) or de membrillo (quince) with some mate in the afternoon.
June 20th: Día de la Bandera
National Flag Day in Argentina is celebrated on June 20th to commemorate the death of its creator, Manuel Belgrano. It was made in 1812 and the original flag did not have the sun in the center as the flag that we know today does. The flag was originally 3 stripes of blue white and blue again. The flag was created during the Argentine War of Independence, and then the sun was added to the flag in 1818.
The celebration of flag day takes place in Rosario, where the flag was created. There is a public meeting that the president attends where the municipal and provincial authorities speak, followed by a parade where the people carry the flag.
July 9th: Día de la Independencia
On this day but in 1916, the Declaration of Independence from Spain was signed. You will see that there are patriotic celebrations such as speeches, parades, and military demonstrations. If you go to Avenida de Mayo you encounter large groups of people enjoying the day’s celebrations. Many Argentines celebrate with family and friends and eat some local meals such as empanadas, locro and asado.
End of July/Beginning of August: Fiesta de la Nieve en Bariloche
For four days all of Bariloche, the Argentinian ski capital, celebrates the beginning of winter with a festival! The festivities include a series of competitions such as walking the central streets with trays of glasses and bottles that can’t be spilled, a parade and competition of wool products, and even a logging competition between lumberjacks. As well as the competitions, there are also concerts. The mountain opening ceremony consists of ski teams and local schools carrying torches down the mountain at dusk. When they reach the bottom, there is a fireworks display. On top of all these festivities, there is a pageant and a crowning of that year’s Snow Queen.
August 10-23: Buenos Aires Tango Festival
This is the festival of Tango, the traditional dance that Argentina (and specifically Buenos Aires) is known for. The tango originated in La Boca, a neighborhood by a port in the south of Buenos Aires. Every year, tango dancers from all over the world come to Argentina to compete in the place where tango was born. The festivities culminate with the Tango World Competition where the best of the best compete. Each year the whole city gets into a tango frenzy with tango shows, music, movies, and recitals. All of the festival events are free of charge, and milongas (the place where one would dance the tango) will hold tango classes, shows, music, Spanish classes, and other events.
August 17th: Aniversario de la muerte del General D. José de San Martín.
On this day in 1850, José de San Martín, leader of the liberation of Argentina, Chile, and Perú died at the age of 72. This man was a key figure in the making of our history and we take this day to honor his efforts and sacrifices.
October 12th: Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity
The origins of this holiday are actually the same as Columbus Day. The day was first celebrated in Argentina in 1917. Workers get the day off to spend with their family and celebrate and remember the day that Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas. The name of the holiday was changed to “Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity” as the arrival of Christopher Columbus is no longer seen as a positive thing, seeing as he in fact did not discover the Americas. It began as a holiday to celebrate the Hispanic influence on the Americas but has since turned into a celebration of diversity.
November 20th: National Sovereignty Day
This one is kind of new since it became a public holiday in 2010. It commemorates the Battle of Vuelta de Obligado, where a small Argentine army faced the Anglo-French navy that sailed into the Paraná River against the Argentine Confederation’s will in 1845. It’s an interesting piece of history since, in spite of Argentina’s defeat, Britain and France had to sign a treaty with Juan Manuel de Rosas due to the losses sustained by their whole military campaign.
December 8th: Día de la Inmaculada Concepción de María
Here is where you once again encounter our Catholic roots. This public holiday celebrates the belief in the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. It is universally celebrated on December 8, nine months before the feast of the Nativity of Mary, which is celebrated on September 8.
December 25th: Navidad
You will find that Navidad is a very openly celebrated holiday in Argentina. Shopping malls will put up decorations and those decorations might not match the experience of Christmas in the summer. Ridiculously enough, you can find winter inspired decorations all over stores and houses. The image we have of Santa, or Papá Noel, as we call him, is representative of what has been imported from the Northern hemisphere. Consequently, our mall Santas are always hot in their winter costumes! While you visit you may also realize that we celebrate the night of the 24th more than the day of the 25th. On the 24th we gather to have dinner together and we wait for Santa to arrive at 12:01. That is to say, kids try and stay awake for the opening of presents. The 25th is more about waking up late and having some leftovers for lunch and relaxing with your family.
Also Read: 2018 Public Holidays in Argentina
While the other traditions may vary a little I felt these were the holidays or
traditions unique to Argentina.