If you happen to find yourself celebrating Easter in Argentina this year, then you’re in luck! Whether you’re a traveler in town for the holiday, a student studying abroad, or an expat just settling down in South America, we want to make sure you stay in the know regarding Argentine Easter celebrations and traditions.
It’s important to know that Argentina is a predominantly Roman Catholic country, so naturally, many people look forward to the Easter holiday each year. Holy Week, also called Semana Santa, is a very festive time throughout Argentina, whether for religious purposes or simply to celebrate the arrival spring.
To help navigate the upcoming holiday, we have compiled a guide of everything you need to know leading up to one of the main event. Follow along and let us know if there are any other tips you would suggest!
Switch to Fish
Throughout Lent, the 40-day period that ends on Easter Sunday, many Argentines refrain from eating meat on Fridays, as do many other Catholics around the world. Bacalao con garbanzos is a popular meat-free stew made of salt cod, chickpeas, and fresh vegetables like spinach and tomato (recipe here). You can also expect empanadas to get a new spin during this time, substituting beef and chicken with tuna, vegetables, and cheeses (we recommend Roquefort or Mozzarella). You can find these special empanadas all throughout the country, just ask for “empanadas de viglia.”
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
Candy and sweets are traditional staples of the Easter holiday, both here in Argentina and around the world. During the holiday, relatives oftentimes exchange hollow chocolate eggs which are called huevos de Pascua. If you’re looking for something a little heartier, then make sure you try rosca de Pascua. This sweet treat is a favorite in Argentine culture, and the dessert consists of a ring-shaped bread cake topped with custard-like pastry cream and garnishes like fresh fruit, nuts, syrups, and sometimes you will discover a real egg in the center. You can find these for sale at many bakeries and markets, but if you feel like baking your own, you can find a great recipe here. And if you happen to find yourself in Bariloche, don’t miss their annual Easter Chocolate Festival! This year, they will give out more than 12,000 chocolate eggs and reveal the world’s largest chocolate bar (nearly 500 feet long, or 150 meters).
Slow Down and Celebrate
While most schools are closed down during Semana Santa, many businesses also shut their doors on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, known respectively as Jueves Santo and Viernes Santo. This allows friends and families to focus on spending time together, preparing for the upcoming holiday, and reflect on the religious significance of Easter Sunday. So if you’re one of those people that tends to wait until the last minute, make sure all of your Easter preparations are in order before the end of the week, otherwise you may be out of luck!
The Main Event
Come Easter Sunday, you can practically feel the buzz of excitement in the air. For many, the day begins with morning mass at church, which is typically followed by a traditional asado lunch. It’s common for these lunches to last multiple hours. Some of the specialties you can anticipate include picadads (bite-sized portions of assorted meats and cheeses), ensaladas, and of course, meat – everything from chorizo, chicken, beef, and lamb. And whatever you do, don’t forget the Malbec!