Visitors who plan a December holiday trip to Uruguay are anxious to discover how the Christmas holidays are celebrated and what traditions they might expect to see. Some people come to Uruguay fully anticipating a celebration vastly different from the holidays they enjoy at home.
However, a Christmas in Uruguay is surprisingly much like Christmas celebrations in many other countries, but snow and cold weather are two things that are not present in this Uruguay holidays scene. Christmas traditions in Uruguay are as varied and wonderful as they are in any other country around the world.
For people in Uruguay Christmas occurs during the country's summer season and you are more likely to see tourists wandering around wearing bathing suits instead of snowsuits and parkas. Of course some residents in some areas of California and Florida and those people living on other sunny tropical islands experience the same kind of weather at Christmas time.
There is something rather magical about having the chance to spend the Christmas holidays in Uruguay lounging on one of the many fine beaches found in this small south american country. Tourists can lounge on the sparkling, sandy shores at Punta del Diablo, La Paloma, La Barra, Piriapolis or Atlantida. At many of these beaches they can enjoy a stunning combination of wonderful woodlands and crystal clear waters.
The school term in Uruguay runs from March up until the first of December which means that the students and teachers are on vacation and looking forward to Christmas Day. Even the workers get a holiday bonus because people only work until mid-day on December 24th and no one works on Christmas Day except for essential employees such as doctors, nurses and police officers.
Christmas in Uruguay means a time for happy family celebrations which often involve lots of traditional food and music. A family will often choose a live Christmas tree and bring it home, although there are some that use artificial trees.
The tree is decorated with an assortment of colorful bright lights, ornaments, candies and candles. The family also makes a manger scene to set near the fireplace. They use ceramic figures and paper to construct this nativity scene and usually the manger remains empty until Christmas morning when one person places a tiny ceramic baby in the manger to represent the Christ child.
Christmas Eve in Uruguay means a time for family members to gather around a table for a big, festive dinner. Everyone spends time talking, laughing, singing and telling stories right up until midnight.
In Uruguay Christmas morning arrives and there are hugs, kisses and good wishes for all family members and the adults busy the children to distract their attention while "Santa", or Pap Noel, as he is known to the children of Uruguay will sneak into the house and leave presents for all the boys and girls.
During this time there is usually lots of happy music, singing and firework displays. Many people who live in the capital city of Montevideo will go to La Rambla and large crowds of happy folk will welcome a unique Uruguay Christmas Morning while dancing, singing and celebrating on the shores of the beach.
Many people in Uruguay are Catholic and Christmas is a time to celebrate and practice their faith.
Church services are heavily attended on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and there are special plays and music to enjoy.
This is the time of year that many large families come together to worship and celebrate at both church and home.
Christmas dinner in Uruguay could mean a barbeque in the backyard or a picnic at the beach. Among the foods that people enjoy at this time of year are sweet sidra (which is a type of cider) and Pan Dulce, which is a wonderfully sweet Uruguay Christmas bread that is stuffed with sweets and then baked until it is golden brown. This rich dessert is a treat that many children are eager to sample during these fun filled Uruguay Christmas holidays.