Over 85 percent of Argentinians are Roman Catholic, and the nation is generally highly devout. How Christmas is celebrated is no exception to this religious emphasis, though there certainly are secular elements to be found in an Argentine Christmas as well.
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On 8 December the season gets under way with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and many put up their trees. Another important decoration in Argentine Christmases is the pesebre, or “nativity set.” You will often see these set up right next to the Christmas tree.
The main celebration in Argentina occurs on Christmas Eve. Celebrations take place early, and then the faithful attend mass in the afternoon. When they return home, preparations will be made for dinner, often eaten late at 10pm to 11pm. After dinner, at the stroke of midnight, many will give a toast just as the sound of fireworks is heard in the background. Others, however, got back to church to welcome Christmas Morning during a midnight mass.
Another Argentine tradition is to release colourful “globos,” which are paper lanterns with candles inside of them, into the night sky on Christmas Eve. When large numbers of people gather and release them simultaneously, the sight is truly spectacular.
While some Argentinians put presents under their trees to be opened late on Christmas Eve or just after midnight, the main day for gift-giving is 6 January. This is the day of “Epiphany,” when the Three Kings are thought to have brought gifts to the baby Jesus.