Holidays in Argentina are very important times to be around loved ones. While there are many holidays celebrated in similar tradition all around the world, there are some traditions that may be unique to Argentina. A good background to know 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. Though now, less than 20% of the population practices Catholicism regularly. The holidays I list here are only a handful of what is actually celebrated.
Here is the calendar for the top 8 most important Argentine traditional Holidays:
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 at the house. 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.
January 21-29: Folklore Festival in Cordoba
This Argentine music festival began in 1961. Traditionally it was only Argentinian Folk music, and while it still focuses on folk music it 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 is still one of the most important music festivals in South America.
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 from that with the celebrations including a parade, free wine samples, and even a beauty pageant where they crown “Queen of Vendimia”.
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. Normally families spend time with each other on May 25th because it’s one of the most important holidays. The families will gather and eat locro (a corn based stew), one of the national dishes of Argentina.
June 20th: National Flag Day
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 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. 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.
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 that include: 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 dance 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) would hold tango classes, shows, music, Spanish classes and other events.
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” because some of the indigenous people think of the arrival of Christopher Columbus a bad thing. It began as a holiday to celebrate the Hispanic influence on the Americas but has since turned into a celebration of diversity.
Past all of this there is obviously Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, New Years, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, carnival day and the other holidays you would expect to be World Wide.
While the other traditions may vary a little I felt these were the holidays or traditions unique to Argentina. Are we missing other important unique holidays?