Clearly Santa Claus travels a lot and always with the same outfit. When he crosses into South America he should change his boots into flip-flops and fold his jacket away. He should also have a cold Coke (or beer) in his hands that will make his trip a lot easier.
I’m very certain that if I mention the word “Christmas” to you the first thing that comes to your mind is a Christmas tree. Then, depending on where you are you might also think of turkey if you’re in the US, or lentils if you’re in Italy. Then it comes the cold and snow idea. And finally it comes the race for gifts, but that topic can stress you (and me) so we will leave that aside 🙂
Obviously there are going to be some differences from one country to another in the way that Christmas is celebrated in South America but much of what happens on Christmas is similar throughout the continent.
In my case, I do find that Christmas in Chile tends to be less of a religious event than it is in other parts of the world. The influence of the church remains strong here, but somehow the feeling of Christmas here is more commercial than religious and in the end it turns out to be another chance to go out and celebrate in pubs or houses with pools 🙂
Since most people associate Christmas to winter and to Coca Cola ad, the Southern hemisphere and Chile in particular somehow emulates part of the Coca Cola idea which house decorations: tree, socks hung over fireplaces (without fire), artificial snow painted all over the place, even in the garden to bring back the Santa Claus environment. I wonder why they kept this tradition. It would be a lot more fun to give a tank top and flip-flops to Santa 🙂
So decoration is key and is very hard to find to real Christmas trees so instead is very common to buy a fake one you can use every year.This is because South America inherited Christianity from its European colonizers. In time each country developed its own profane/sacred approach to it. Kids still reenact the birth of Jesus at schools and churches celebrate Mass, but there’s also dancing, fires, icy drinks and chants that very much echo pagan traditions.
Here are two photos I took in the Costanera mall in Santiago. So in absence of of real snow, people awaits for fake snow to come down and decorate the big tree
Oh, and about Santa Claus. In South America he is known by many names: “Papai/Papá Noel,” “San Nicolás,” “Viejito Pascuero,” and “el guatón Navideño”. This character does what the Santa Claus is expected toy do: bring gifts for children. You can see him in green outfits but it’s the Coca Cola red outfit character the one you see the most.
Christmas is known as Navidad in Spanish-speaking countries and Natal in Brazil and it means “Birth”. Normally people here celebrates the Christmas Eve or else known as Noche Buena where you’re supposed to have a big family meal and open presented after midnight. Midnight is the moment everybody awaits.
And after opening presents… it’s party time
See what I’m talking about?
Merry Christmas everyone 🙂