5 unique Chilean Christmas traditions

The Christmas season in Chile is an important celebration. From its special Chilean Christmas traditions, unique dishes and own terminology, this stunning country is the perfect destination to soak in the glorious sunshine and celebrate the most festive time of year. Keep reading to discover five unique traditions you’ll only find in Chile during the holidays: 

Delicious ‘cola de mono’ or monkey’s tail

1. Cheers with a delicious ‘cola de mono’ or monkey’s tail 

During the month of December, while the Northern Hemisphere prepares for Old Man Winter, the Southern Hemisphere and Chile, warmly welcome the beginning of their summer months filled with sunshine, beach hangs and seasonal foods and beverages. Throughout the holiday season, Chileans tend to reach for an iconic and refreshing holiday punch, the ‘cola de mono’ or ‘colemono’ also known as monkey’s tail, to break the heat.  

Similar to the popular White Russian cocktail, this tasty and refreshing beverage is made from coffee, milk, cinnamon, sugar and aguardiente, a Chilean alcohol. There are countless different versions, but this creamy concoction is a must on any Chilean Christmas food or drink menu during the holiday season. Cheers and ‘Feliz Pascua!’ 

Also, fun fact: in Chile, ‘Pascua’ can mean both Christmas and Easter. 

‘Viejito Pascuero’ also known as Santa Clause or Old Man Christmas placing presents around Christmas tree

2. Meet ‘Viejito Pascuero’ also known as Santa Claus or Old Man Christmas 

A Chilean Christmas wouldn’t be complete without the magic of ‘Viejito Pascuero’ also known as Santa Claus or Old Man Christmas. In some parts of Chile, he can be found wearing a red and white outfit and delivering gifts via front doors or windows (as chimneys aren’t common in Chile) to families with a sleigh drawn by reindeer. Throughout other areas, ‘Viejito Pascuero’ is a local rancher in the presence of a llama. 

Beautifully decorated table for Christmas dinner

3. Celebrate ‘Noche Buena’ or The Good Night 

In Chile, during the nine days leading up to Christmas, Catholics observe ‘novena,’ meaning ‘nine’ in Latin. This is a period of prayer and spiritual preparation leading up to Christmas Eve. After locals attend Christmas Eve mass with friends and family members, that is when the big Chilean Christmas traditions take place. Loved ones will gather together to enjoy a delicious meal paired with scrumptious Chilean wine and at midnight, everyone opens presents. Children will often play with presents and head to bed, while the adults will keep the celebrations going. 

RELATED CONTENT: Where to sip the best Chilean wine in Chile
GET INSPIRED BY: South America Landscapes

Assortment of meats and vegetables being barbecued

4. Indulge in delicious Chilean Christmas foods

During Christmas Eve festivities, locals look forward to a delicious meal with all the fixings. Chilean barbeques, also known as ‘asado’, are very popular as a key social event in Chilean culture especially during the holidays. From an assortment of meats including chicken, turkey, beef and pork and vegetables galore, the flavours of the season will have you going back for more. Mouth-watering chicken soup also known as ‘cazuela de ave’ is very popular.

Be sure to save some room for dessert. The ‘pan de pascua’ also known as the iconic Chilean Christmas cake is a treat like none other. Similar to a panettone, this sponge-like cake is often made with rum and filled with dried fruit or nuts and is delightful. 

On December 25th, Christmas Day, locals tend to relax and take in the warm weather by the beach and surf the waves. And later, enjoy all the yummy leftovers from the night before. 

Multicoloured Christmas ornaments hanging on tree

5. Witness mesmerizing Christmas trees and decorations 

Another popular Chilean Christmas tradition includes decorating locals houses with Christmas trees and festive lights. Usually beginning in November, wreaths, colourful lights, garlands and iconic nativity scenes begin to fill locals’ homes and around malls and store windows throughout towns and cities. 

Christmas trees are harder to find in Chile, so locals opt for artificial trees or sculptures to be decorated in their homes instead. In the past, The Plaza de Armas, the central plaza in Chile’s capital, Santiago, was decorated with hundreds of different rag dolls. 

RELATED CONTENT: Five Reasons to Visit Chile

Do you know of any additional unique Chilean Christmas traditions? Share your thoughts and comments below

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Sign up to our newsletter

Sign up to our newsletter and receive $250 of FREE Trafalgar travel credit

"*" indicates required fields

Terms and Cons*
Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in excerpt
Search in content