Just as in the rest of the world, Christmas in Latin America is a beautiful time of the year marked by feelings of peace and goodwill. However, traditions to celebrate it are different across countries.
When comparing the United States with Latin America, it is easy to distinguish three fundamental differences:
- Christmas’ Dinner
In the majority of Latin American countries, dinner is served right after the midnight of the 24th of December. This meal is more important than the celebration of the 25th. The menu, depending on the country, includes turkey, pig, ham, eggnog, hallacas (a Venezuelan type of tamale), ham bread and tamales.
In turn, the celebration on the 25th is more important than the one on Christmas Eve. It is for this reason that the special food is served on this afternoon. Generally, turkey or ham is the main dish, served with baked potatoes and some salads.
- Santa Claus and the Magi on the Day of the Epiphany
To Latin Americans, there are two days where children receive presents: the night of the 24th of December, when Santa Claus or Baby Jesus (depending on the country), bring the toys children have asked for in their letters; and the day where the Magi arrive, which is the 6th of January.
However, in the United States it is Santa Claus who visits homes during the night to leave presents for the children. He also leaves candy, cookies and small presents in the Christmas stockings that have been hung on chimneys or elsewhere in the houses.
- The Christmas Crib and Nativity Scene
For Latin Americans, representing the birth of Baby Jesus is a very important matter Thus, Nativity Scenes are displayed inside every home, businesses and school, which include Mary and Joseph, shepherds, the Magi and various animals, including sheep, the Mule and the Ox. Baby Jesus is only placed on the crib after the midnight of December 24th.
In the United States, Nativity Scenes are displayed only at Churches or in the homes of observant people. Also, Baby Jesus is place immediately and people don’t wait until the 24th of December.
Do you know other differences?