Argentinian friends were joking about how they celebrate Christmas in the hot Summer but yet they have Christmas trees, sweet treats and cakes that they normally only eat in the Winter, and ‘Papa Noel’ – Father Christmas – still dresses in a very warm red and white suit. I suppose that’s inevitable when the vast majority of the world’s population lives in the Northern Hemisphere and celebrates Christmas in the Winter. As is the custom here, my mother’s family gathered together on Christmas Eve ready to raise a toast to Jesus at midnight with glasses of cheap champagne. We ate together with hundreds of others in the Church that my family attends here in Quilmes, Buenos Aires.
At midnight there were fireworks and people shared presents. As we were in a Church we sung a few songs to the Author of CHRISTmas. As you may have read in my earlier posts I don’t know if God really exists but just in case He does I joined in with the singing. A good time was had by all. Christmas Day is often spent cooling down by the poolside and sharing an ‘asado’ – a barbeque, Argentinian style.
Forget about processed burgers and sausages – this is the real deal: about a quarter of a cow is on the grill, along with all sorts of other bits of meat, and even some cheese is frying away in little saucepans. My cousin’s daughter’s newly-wed husband did the honours, timing the cooking to perfection, a skill passed down from father to son, which sadly, I never inherited because my Argentine side comes from my mother. As is common over here my cousins have a whole outbuilding dedicated to the holy grill, where we lounged around outdoors all day eating and chatting away and jumping in their tiny pool.
New Year was practically a repeat of Christmas but in a different location with a lot more fireworks. This time the BBQ was in the evening and at midnight the whole city erupted in colourful explosions, and many other explosions with no colour at all – kids love throwing bangers around here, the louder the better, and it makes all the dogs bark like crazy. They seem to continuously detonate bangers for a fortnight before and after New Year. My granny doesn’t like them. It has been lovely to hang out with my mother’s family after eleven years away; in true Argentine fashion they have immediately made me feel right at home.