Argentina Customs and Traditions
Updated: 6 days ago
Argentinians people are among the friendliest and kindest, and they often have a very high social sense, also they appreciate the values of kindness and friendship.
The customs and traditions of the Argentine people and their culture have a strong European influence.
Most Argentinians are primarily of European descent, which separate them from other Latin American countries where European and Indian cultures were more mixed. Culturally and emotionally, Argentinians often seem more European than Latin American.
General traditions in Argentina
The standard greeting in Argentina is to put one hand on the other person’s shoulder and kiss one of the cheeks with just one kiss.
Handshake, with direct eye contact and a welcoming smile, is sufficient to welcome others.
When talking to others, you should look directly into their eyes, as this indicates you are interested in talking.
Greet the eldest or most important person first.
You will be introduced to not only what you say, but the way you present yourself.
Argentinians prefer face-to-face interviews rather than phone conversations.
At the end of the interview, each person must be bid farewell separately.
Argentinians are generally straightforward people, but they are able to maintain tact and diplomacy.
You should wait for the host to introduce you to others in a small gathering.
The family is the center of Argentine life with extended families still having prominence.
The heads of powerful families command widespread respect, but with this comes a responsibility to care for others in terms of security, jobs, etc, and to maintain personal and family honor.
Honour is in all respects the be-all and end-all and it routinely affects day-to-day life at home, in the community, and in business.
The name structure for many people is the first name followed by a middle name and a surname. For example, Maria Karina GONZALEZ.
Most Argentines adopt their father’s surname. However, in some regions of Argentina where there is a strong Spanish influence, many will have two family names – the father’s surname followed by the mother’s surname (e.g. Maria GONZALEZ GARCIA).
Married women can choose to adopt their husband’s surname or to continue using their maiden name. If she adopted her husband's name she will add "de" (‘of') (e.g. Maria GONZALEZ de LOPEZ).
It is common for people to be given a nickname. Many nicknames in Argentina are words that describe physical characteristics.
Previously, it was common for children to be named after their parents or after historical, political, or sporting figures. This is no longer the norm as many children are given names that are distinctive or that are personal preferences of the parents.
Meeting & Greeting:
Greetings vary depending on one’s gender and how well-acquainted people are with one another.
When greeting for the first time or in a formal setting, Argentines generally shake hands and give a slight nod to show respect.
The ‘abrazo’ is the most common greeting among friends and family. This consists of a handshake and a hug. The number of kisses when giving an abrazo varies from region to region. In most places, one kiss is the norm.
If a pair of friends do not have a very close relationship, they will simply give a kiss on the right cheek.
Direct eye contact is common when greeting people, particularly among men.
When first introduced or in formal situations, Argentines customarily address people by title, followed by surname if known. If someone’s title is unknown, then simply use ‘Señor’ for men or ‘Señora’ for women.
Typical phrases that accompany greetings include “Buenos días” (“Good morning”), “Buenas tardes” (Good afternoon”), and “Buenas Noches” (“Good evening”).
People often exchange these greetings when passing one another on the street in smaller towns or among neighbors. A person might wave and smile at an acquaintance if they are too far away to give a verbal greeting.
Visiting a home
It is common for Argentines to visit friends and relatives without making prior arrangements.
Argentines tend to enjoy hosting guests in the home. Typically, the host will offer their guests refreshments.
Arriving on time is not the norm.
If the gathering has roughly 20 guests or fewer, visitors are expected to greet everyone individually.
Wait for the host or hostess to tell you where to sit. There may be a seating plan.
When leaving, say goodbye to each person individually. To say goodbye, people use phrases such as ‘chau’ (‘bye’) or ‘hasta luego’ (‘until later).
In urban areas, it is common for the host to open the door for guests when they leave.
Dress well. Men should wear a jacket and tie. Women should wear a dress or a skirt and blouse.
Arrive 30 to 45 minutes later than invited for a dinner party.
Telephone your hosts the following day to thank them.
If invited to dinner at an Argentine's home bring a small gift for the hostess.
Bring gifts like chocolate, flowers, candy, pastries, or wine to show your appreciation. Edible gifts are often shared with guests on the same day they are received.
A bottle of imported spirits is always well received. Since taxes on imported spirits are extremely high.
Avoid giving anything that is obviously expensive. This sort of gift might be interpreted as a bribe.
Do not give knives or scissors as they indicate a desire to break the relationship.
Gifts are opened immediately.
Gifts are usually opened when received.
Gifts are often nicely wrapped and presented.
Dining & Food:
Table manners are Continental Most Argentines eat with a knife in the right hand and a fork in the left hand.
Do not begin eating until your hosts invite you to do so.
Always keep your hands visible when eating, but do not rest your elbows on the table.
Wait for a toast to be made before taking the first sip of your drink.
During a toast, people typically raise their glasses, look at the person being toasted and then say “Salud” (“Cheers”).
It is considered polite to leave a small amount of food on your plate when you have finished eating.
When you have finished eating, place your knife and fork across your plate with the prongs facing down and the handles facing to the right.
Pouring wine is beset with many rituals and cultural taboos. If at all possible, avoid pouring wine.
Argentines typically eat three meals a day, with the main meal being lunch.
Using a toothpick in public is considered bad manners.
Blowing one’s nose or clearing one’s throat at the table is also considered poor manners.
Eating on public transport is seen as poor etiquette. However, eating on public streets is considered acceptable by most people.
Many Argentines enjoy afternoon tea (merienda), which usually includes ‘mate’ (a type of herbal tea made from yerba mate leaves) or coffee along with a pastry or slice of cake.
It is also common in some regions of Argentina for friends and relatives to share a round of mates. Sharing tea is a sign of friendship and acceptance.
If the meal is an ‘Asado’ (barbecue), a guest is typically expected to bring a plate of food to share with everyone.
Compliments to the host about their home or the meal are appreciated.
It is considered polite to leave a small amount of food on your plate when you have finished eating.
Above all Argentines like to do business with people they know and trust.
They prefer face-to-face meetings rather than by telephone or in writing, which is seen as impersonal.
Once a relationship has developed, their loyalty will be to you rather than to the company you represent.
Looking good in the eyes of others is important to Argentines. Therefore, they will judge you not only on what you say but also on the way you present yourself.
Avoid confrontation. Argentines do not like publicly admitting they are incorrect.
It is imperative to show deference and respect to those in positions of authority. When dealing with people at the same level, communication can be more informal.
Be alert for hidden meanings. It is a good idea to repeat details, as you understand them to confirm that you and your business colleagues are in agreement.
Holidays and festivals
Argentine traditions include the National Festival of Folk Art, Carnival, Anniversary of the First National Government, Flag Day, Friendship Day, Independence Day, Columbus Day, Snow Festival.
Since they are a Catholic community, they celebrate Catholic Christian holidays such as Good Friday, Easter, and Christmas.
On July 9th, Argentina celebrates Independence Day.
The National Festival of Folk Art is held in Cordoba as a celebration of folk traditions. At this festival, people send cards and flowers.
On friendship day, they call their friends.
The Snow Festival is for a region in Argentina with a strong Swiss influence, celebrating their history with traditional Swiss cakes and wines.
A popular ritual in Argentina is the sharing of tea (yerba mate), a national drink.
Yerba Mate is prepared by soaking the dried leaves of these herbs in hot water. Drinks are then drunk from a special hollow vessel (calabash) with a silver or metallic straw (Bombilla).
The tea is passed on and delivered from person to person, thus becoming a pleasant social ritual.
You may find friends around in parks.
This drink is believed to have several health benefits such as relieving stress, reducing appetite, enhancing immunity, and obtaining many nutrients and antioxidants.
Culture & Theater
Arts and culture are immensely popular in Argentina, and receive support from both private and national institutions.
Argentinians are well-educated people, and every year the country hosts an international book fair attended by more than a million people.
Among the many world-famous writers is the Argentine Jorge Luis Borges, who was a poet and critic and one of the most prominent writers of the twentieth century.
Argentinians are very fond of performing and performing arts.
Dancing shows and concerts are held in parks, and sometimes in football fields.
Film and music production is one of the thriving industries in Argentina, as you will find many types of music to suit all tastes, from folk to pop, jazz.
Tango is one of the famous dances in Argentina.