Traditions and customs of Argentina

What traditions and customs are there in Argentina?

A review of the customs and traditions that exist in Argentina, a South American country.


Food in daily life

Argentines really like meat and pasta. Most restaurants offer a wide assortment of meat and pasta dishes. Spanish and Italian cuisine inspire everyday cuisine, while French -influenced cuisine is reserved for special occasions.

It is quite common to buy fresh pasta for Sunday lunch, which is usually a family event (often including extended family).

Breakfast is very light and generally includes coffee or tea and milk, toast, butter and jam. In restaurants and hotels, breakfast also includes small croissants. Lunch is served from 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm It used to be the biggest meal of the day.

This is changing due to tight work schedules that make some workers eat increasingly lighter meals. There is usually an afternoon tea or coffee break with biscuits, sandwiches, cakes and/or a piece of cake. Dinner is served from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

There are no rigid taboos, but Argentines in general are not very adventurous when it comes to trying unusual foods, flavors and combinations. The most popular restaurants are grills and pizzerias. Due to the strong Italian influence in the food, ice cream parlors offering locally made jellies are very popular.

People gather at any time of the day in cafes to have an espresso or a cup of tea. These places are the heart and soul of Argentine urban culture. People gather there to talk about politics and football, to flirt and get to know each other, to study and to socialize with friends and partners.

Food customs on ceremonial occasions

Any occasion is a good excuse to have a barbecue. Festive dishes include: locro (a stew made with corn, meats, sausages, squash, and sweet potatoes), empanadas (usually empanadas, but can also be filled with corn, ham and cheese, or chicken).

Spanish paellas are also sometimes prepared for special gatherings. Since Argentina is a wine-producing country, wine is always served at special gatherings and on holidays. Mate drinks are sometimes offered at some public events.


Both men and women greet each other by kissing each other on the cheek. In very formal meetings men and women shake hands. People address each other with the colloquial form vos (singular «tú», equivalent to tu in other Spanish-speaking countries).

To convey social distance, people use the more formal you (to talk to superiors or elders). The physical and social distance in everyday encounters is much closer than in the United States, for example.

Argentines may touch each other when they speak and may feel uncomfortable when North Americans reject physical proximity and contact. Women and men look at each other, and it is still quite common for men to use compliments (flirtatious comments) when a woman passes by.


Religious beliefs

Most Argentines are Roman Catholic, although not all of them actively practice the religion. Jews immigrated to Argentina in the late 19th century from Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Middle East. A significant number also emigrated during and after World War II. Estimates of the exact size of the Jewish population vary between 250,000 and 500,000 people.

Pentecostalism and other Protestant denominations are becoming very popular among the lower class (4.69 percent of the population was Protestant in 1998). New Age and Eastern religions are popular among some upper and middle class urbanites.

People of various classes consult folk healers or “witches” and participate in folk rituals associated with popular forms of religion. For example, some Argentines believe in folk saints who are believed to have healing powers or to be capable of performing miracles, such as Difunta Correa, San La Muerte, and Gaucho Gil.

religious practitioners

Along with various church specialists, sorcerers and healers are very popular. Some are immigrants from Brazil carrying their Afro-Brazilian beliefs, others combine elements of popular Catholicism with indigenous beliefs, and still others are urban men and women who have been trained in the secrets of the Tarot or I-Ching.

Some of these practitioners are becoming so popular that many of them offer their services (mainly palm and Tarot reading) at very popular craft fairs on weekends.

Death and the afterlife

The inspection of the deceased takes place immediately after death, either at a funeral home or at the home of the deceased. No special meals are served and only coffee is available. In the Northeast, there are special ceremonies called velorio del angelito for dead children. The ritual includes dancing and singing.

Secular celebrations

On May 25, Argentina commemorates the May Revolution of 1810, when the country’s population decided to appoint their own government after Napoleon invaded Spain.

Argentina Flag Day is June 20 and commemorates the death of the creator of the Argentine flag, Manuel Belgrano.

Independence Day is July 9. Argentine representatives from various provinces decided to become independent from Spain.

Arts and Humanities

Arts support

The artists receive support from private foundations and national institutions. Very few artists can support themselves. At the beginning of the 20th century, writers and painters formed groups that led important artistic movements. The two most important were the Florida and Boedo groups.

The former was elitist and closely followed European trends, while the latter attracted artists from humbler origins and had a more popular and nationalist orientation.

Argentine artists compete for various national prizes offered by foundations and companies. Some of the recently privatized energy, telecommunications, and transportation companies sponsor the arts in innovative ways. For example, Subterráneos de Buenos Aires offers dance and theater performances, as well as art exhibitions to passengers waiting for the train. There are also shows on board.


Argentina is internationally known for some of its writers. Jorge Luis Borges is probably the best known writer. Other acclaimed writers are Roberto Arlt, Ernesto Sabato, Julio Cortázar, Victoria Ocampo, Leopoldo Marechal, José Hernández, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, Manuel Puig, Luisa Valenzuela, Ricardo Piglia and Adolfo Bioy Casares.

Every year, Argentina has an international book fair, with an attendance of more than a million people.

Graphic arts

Higher education institutions train artists in all kinds of fine arts. Many Argentine artists have been at the forefront of art movements. There are numerous art galleries in the main cities of the country. In Buenos Aires alone there are sixty art galleries.

The Recoleta Cultural Center, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Modern Art organize exhibitions to promote the work of national artists. Xul Solar, Raquel Forner, Eneas Spilimbergo, Carlos Alonso, Antonio Berni, Carlos Castagnino, Raúl Soldi, Rómulo Macció, Centurión, Benedit, Pérez Celis, Lacámera and Raúl Russo are renowned painters.

Some sculptors such as Fioravanti, Lola Mora, Irurtia, Perlotti, Cossice, LeParc and Di Stefano have created works for parks and other public spaces.

Performing arts

Argentina has an opera house, the Teatro Colón, where world-famous musicians and ballet companies perform. This theater has a classical dance school that produced world-class dancers like Julio Bocca. In addition to the Teatro Colón, other theaters specialize in classical and modern music and dance and have touring companies.

Argentines are very fond of theater. During the military dictatorship of the seventies, the actors organized a theater festival that constituted a very powerful form of social protest.

Municipal governments support the arts and generally offer art classes and sponsor art events. They promote both the expressions of classical art and those of popular art. Concerts and dance performances are held in parks and large stadiums. Attendance at some of these events is massive.

Share the customs and traditions of Argentina.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button