Christmas and New Year celebrations in Argentina represent a very significant tradition. A special family dinner takes place at night in Christmas Eve, the moment of the year when families make an effort to gather together round a table to enjoy a large reunion. Bringing what anyone can offer, all the meals are placed together at the large family table so everybody can serve himself or herself. In most occasions, the food is so abundant that the next day will find the family enjoying a lunch with the left overs of the previous night.
As these festivities take place at the peak of the Southern Hemisphere summers (that can be real hot in most regions of the country), the meals mostly consist of cold dishes like salads, a large variety of vegetables, chicken, cold meat (hams, salami, pork, vittel-thoné), fruits, cakes and ice cream. Of course, barbecue ribs are usually present. Being mostly an immigrant society that has blended with local populations, the influence of Eastern and Western European cultures in the food is pretty significant as evidenced by the presence of very caloric additions—more suited to cold winters than for hot summers—such as nuts, pistachios, peanuts or almonds.
The Italian immigration into Argentina has added its own touch: the traditional Panettone is always present to enjoy these celebrations, and the unavoidable pasta (that can be eaten even cold during this season) is part of this tradition. Of course, the wine—the national drink—is never absent. Argentina normally promotes its Malbec but there is a large variety of grapes, wines and wineries. The wines (varietals as well as blends) are whites, reds and roses, grown in vineyards, developed at significant altitude (as in Mendoza, Salta, La Rioja and other provinces) and in a dry environment that contributes to their excellent quality. Typical for the brindis (traditional toast) is the classic apple cider, which is also very popular. But in a hot environment, it is also a tradition to put fruit into the wine; in case of reds this drink is called “sangria” and if the fruit is in the white wine we call it “clericot”.
Certainly, being the eighth largest nation in the World these celebrations vary something according to the regions. For this reason as well as for being oriented North-South, Argentina has simultaneously a great diversity of temperature and climates. In the South you may enjoy the Los Glaciares (the glaciers) National Park, a unique jewel in America, Ushuaia (the southernmost city of the World), Antartica and Patagonia. In Mendoza and in the North of Argentina you will discover the highest mountains of America as well as moonlike panoramas. You may also enjoy the Pampas, cattle and horse breeding heart of the Nation, the Iguazu Falls in the Northeast, and the always magnetic city of Buenos Aires with its Tango dancing that has become a worldwide attraction.