A huge country, 8th largest in the world, with 23 provinces, mystic cultures, simple traditions and wonderful dance styles, that's Argentina for you! Situated in the southern most region of the South American continent, this country is also the 3rd largest in all the 10 Latin American countries. Latin American countries include American countries that have European influence and where the romance languages, such as Spanish and Portuguese are officially spoken more than English itself.
Argentina's culture and traditions are highly influenced by the vast majority of European immigrants. The languages, the customs and the religious statistics, have all gone through changes in the past few years or decades. Today, out of 10, less than 1 person lives under the poverty line. Today, the country's culture capital is Buenos Aires. Let's proceed to some interesting facts about Argentina and know more about this magnificent country!
An Overview of Argentine Culture and Traditions
Religion is given a lot of importance in this country, with 92.1% of Argentine population being Christian. The Constitution in this country gives you the freedom to practice any religion of your choice. However, some facts are surprising. For example, till 1994, it was compulsory to have a Roman Catholic President and Vice President. The 7th largest congregation of the Christians, is in Argentina, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The percentage of people who don't follow any particular religion in this country is 11%. This church has a following of 330,000. Argentina also has the highest population of Jews amongst all the Latin America countries.
Now that we know about Argentina's religion statistics, let's proceed to the languages, which also form an important part of Argentina's culture and traditions. Spanish is the official language of this country and is called Castilian by the locals. There are many dialects of this language, spread throughout the country. Argentina is the only country that uses a technique called voseo, which allows the use of particular pronouns. For example, 'vos' is used instead of 'tu'. The Rioplatense dialect is spoken in the Rio de la Plata basin. Another dialect, or more of a slang, called Lunfardo is spreading widely due to the European immigrants. In Buenos Aires, the locals speak in an almost Neapolitan language accent.
Now let's move on to a more interesting topic - Movies!! The country produces approximately 80 movies every year. You would be surprised to know that the first animated feature films (at the global level), were produced here. Quirino Cristiani is a name that is very popular in Argentina's movie culture. He was a cartoonist and was responsible for those feature films. Most of the famous actors were tango performers. The Argentine film industry, if it's safe to call it that, has a golden era from 1930-1950. Though some films have got international recognition, not many of them are globally famous. The festivals responsible for promoting these films are, the Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema and the Mar del Plata Film Festival.
Literature has played a major role in Argentina's culture. Prominent writers and poets such as Enrique Bachs, Juan Bautista Alberdi and Roberto Arlt have carved the literary practices in this region. The modernist movement in France greatly influenced the writing style and concepts of the country during 19th century, revolving around nationalist ideologies. Later came in Vanguardism. During this time, Jorge Luis Borges influenced the global writing styles with the use of metaphor. The most famous literary example of Argentine culture is the debate with Martine Fierro (Jose Hernandez) and Facundo (Domingo Faustino Sarmiento).
Today, the rock scene in Argentina's music is thriving. This obviously has its influence on the society and its culture. Tango is the most famous element of Argentine music and dance. Most of the songs are sung in such a way that they can be danced upon. Some of the influential names in Argentine music are Atahualpa Yupanqui and Mercedes Sosa. Other than these, classical music and pop are prominent in the society too. Adean music is also popular in Argentina and so is Chamame. Apart from tango, another famous dance form is the Chacarera.
Some Interesting Argentine Traditions
- You might think, when you're invited for dinner by an Argentine, it's important to take a gift along with you. Do not ever take a knife or a scissor with you. Not even a Swiss knife! Knives are a symbol of hatred and so are scissors. It would imply that you want to cut down on relations. Don't forget to hold the knife in your right hand and the fork in the other. There is too much etiquette involved in pouring wine so avoid it.
- The institution of a joint family is considered important in this country. Family members are often called upon for favors. Do not get offended by this. If you ask for a favor, be prepared to return it sometime soon. Business relationships are also maintained with a selected few. These selected few and close friends are usually people, they trust. Most meetings in Argentina are in person and telephone meetings are not preferred. If you need to discuss something important with an Argentine, do it in person.
- There is a long list of Argentine festivals that you need to attend and traditions that you need to follow. Every family has different views related to different traditions. January, February and March are holiday months, so planning a trip during this time would be great! If you are visiting a friend, don't forget to call him and thank him for his hospitality after you have left! Easter is followed as a grand event in the Argentine society.
- Be prepared to have a lot of beef in Argentina as this is their main ingredient in all the cuisines they prepare. They have a famous barbecue tradition called the asado, something people love all over the world. Pasta has remained a common dish in the country, another example of the European influence. Even pizza is commonly consumed. However, the pizza you have here will be different from anywhere else in the world. Argentine pizza has perhaps the most number of toppings on their pizza.
This was a compiled overview of Argentina's culture and traditions, with some interesting facts about the country. If you ever plan a trip to this country, be prepared to extend it a little bit. The culture and traditions here are really different and very interesting. You can also use this information for school and college projects. If nothing else, use it when you play 20 questions with your friends and family!