Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas in Argentina 2008

(Lara Trost and Snowman in Vancouver)

While we we're stuck in Buenos Aires because our flight was cancelled some of you were enjoying a traditional, white Christmas back home. It's 29c here and sunny, and it just doesn't feel like Christmas. So some of you were kind enough to send us photos of what we were missing. I'm attaching them here along with my original description of our Christmas in Buenos Aires.

It's a little strange here -- very different from Canada and even other Latin American countries like Chile, Peru or Mexico. Even though Argentineans are mostly Catholic, they are very secular and there are few of the symbols we expect at Christmas time, like lights, carols, religious icons. We have seen very few Christmas decorations in stores or on the streets. Not a single Christmas tree or Creche in sight.

(Eaton Centre decorated for Christmas)

The Christmas mass we attended last night (outdoors in front of the church because of the crowd and the 29c temperature) was accompanied by songs and music we couldn't identify, although one sounded like Misa Criollo. None of the traditional church pieces.

(Cordelia's house in Newmarket at Christmas)
Even in Hanoi, Vietnam (a communist country), where we spent Christmas in 2006, they had a huge celebration at the main cathedral downtown with religious carols, lots of lights and a decorated Christmas tree. In Santiago, Chile, we heard carols everywhere, saw a wonderful light show at the town hall and admired young women clad in Santa Claus mini-skirts pitching perfumes on the sidewalk with Christmas music on loudspeakers.

(Christmas at the Biggins in North Carolina)

The most special (and bizarre), however, had to be the Christmas party we were invited to on the island of Lombok at the swank hillside resort of a rich, gay Californian. It featured a gay Dame Edna Santa Claus with young men dressed like Santa's elves in red tank tops and short shorts. The Christmas carols here were a little risque and sung by a very attractive transvestite. In the background behind a gorgeous infinity pool, the sun set over a volcano on the island of Bali. The food and drinks were fabulous and every guest (and this included all of the island's political and society bigwigs) was sent home with homebaked Christmas cookies and a potted orchid.

Here in Buenos Aires, on Christmas eve, most people visit friends for dinnner around 10 and exchange gifts. Then at midnight, the city expoloded with huge, and very loud, fireworks displays as people exchanged toasts and kissed, just like on New Year's Eve. They did the same to celebrate summer's arrival on December 21. Very noisy, but we had a pretty good view from our 6th floor apartment.
(Christmas at the Daigneault's in Toronto)

This morning, I put the TV on hoping to hear some Christmas carols and found a channel that was showing home videos of people wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and peace. Decorated trees were on display in the homes, but all of the songs they played were modern, secular ones like Frosty the Snowman, not a single Wise Man or King to be heard.

(Chanukah at the Trost's in Vancouver)

All this to say, I miss the snow (NOT!) , the Christmas carols and spirit. So thanks for the photos of a real Canadian Christmas to cheer us up.
Merry Christmas,

(Streets in Vancouver after the big snowfall.)

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