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“Felices Fiestas” Means Happy Holidays in Argentina

December 23, 2009

Another great example of how culture is embedded in language is the phrase “Felices Fiestas”/Happy Holidays.

The word feliz means happy but the word fiesta means party! Happy parties??

Well yes!! Of couse! This is Latin America. And Latin America wouldn’t have nearly as much allure if it weren’t for the parties. And in true Latin fashion, Christmas is celebrated at night (still with family), on the 24th, and everyone goes out and dances and parties after dinner with friends and family.

Quite a bit of contrast to our happy holy-days. (The word “holiday” comes from holy + day). (another reference).

And oh my God the fireworks! For those of you in Buenos Aires during Christmas this year please go onto the highest rooftop you can find at about midnight to watch a citywide display of fireworks. Not the 4th of July super watered down so the kids don’t get burned kind. I mean massive explosions that if you didn’t know any better would lead you to believe you were in the middle of a war zone. And it’s a 360 degree display.

And dancing and music and so forth. Yes, it’s a party and hence the difference in the wording and the meaning.

Christmas in the U.S. as we know consists of a frenzy of purchasing leading up to the 25th and on that particular day, the most normal activities are for kids to open presents, to have dinner with family and friends, and watch football and/or basketball.

No dancing, no fireworks, no parties. I’m not saying that the Latin version is better it’s just different. I miss basketball on Christmas. I also miss good beer.

And I’m just trying to illustrate why one culture calls theirs a happy holiday and the other happy parties.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 23, 2009 3:59 pm

    You are right, it’s not better just different…very different. After 20 years of living in the States we still miss the long table, outdoors, family and friends around it, tons of kids waiting until midnight to open the 1 or 2 presents (no the 10 or 12), the loud conversations, the jokes…the laughs!!! A special night (actually morning at that point) that will end only to make room for a very special day when everyone will go back to the same table, eat a bit more, pick up the conversation and continue laughing. WOW!…I think it’s time to move back to BA…

  2. Mariana permalink
    June 26, 2010 6:23 am

    Marcela just hit the nail in the head (and so have you), they are just different.
    I’ve been living many years in the U.S. and it took forever to get used to the american holidays; I used to find them so muted, after years of parting outside in the balmy night with a bazillion of loud-from-the drinks relatives and friends, but now I find them quite charming, the cozyness, the live tree in the living-room, the baking of cookies and the warm cider, so beautiful!, that sometimes I think I would have a hard trouble getting back to the wild south-american partying .
    But of course, I would get right back into the habit of celebrating them argentine style without problem and I would enjoy them as much as I do celebrating here in the U.S..
    Because they are different, and both beautiful.

    Thanks for this blog, it’s really making me feel like I’m back in Argentina.

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