Religious traditions and practices in Argentina

Last Updated: 31 Mar 2023
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Religon Historically, the Catholic religion played a very important part in politics and law. Before changes were made to the Constitution in 1994, the two top leaders of Argentina had to be Roman Catholic. Today, although officially 90% of Argentinians are Roman Catholic, fewer than 20% attend church regularly. Most go for weddings, funerals and major feast days. Many Argentinians make annual pilgrimages to holy sites and local shrines. The most popular place is LuJ¤n, 65 km west of Buenos Aires. Each year, thousands of people make the pilgrimage on foot from Buenos Aires to onour the Patron Saint of Argentina, the Virgin of LuJ¤n.

According to tradition, in 1620 a statue of the Virgin was being carried from town to town in a cart. The cart got stuck at LuJ¤n, Buenos Aires Province, and could not be moved. The people built a chapel for the Virgin to protect the statue. Today there is a large basilica where the chapel once stood. Did you know? Buenos Aires has the second largest Jewish population (300,000) in the Americas after New York. Most provinces and cities have a patron saint. In the northern Salta province, people make pilgrimages to honour "Our Lord of the Miracles" on September 15.

In 1592, a statue of Jesus Christ was washed up out of sea and was carried inland to the Salta City. This statue, the people of Salta believe, has saved them from earthquakes and other dangers. During the fiesta, people parade through the streets of Salta City carrying the statue of Jesus Christ. Another important pilgrimage site is Itati, in Corrientes Province on the Parana River, where people honour the Virgin of Itati every July 16. The statue of the Virgin was carved by a Guarani artist. Although the Constitution states that the federal government is Roman Catholic, it also guarantees freedom of religion for all.

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Argentina has many Jews and Muslims, as well as members of Russian, Greek and Syrian Orthodox churches and Protestant denominations. Some indigenous people follow the customs of the Catholic Church, others have kept their traditional beliefs. Many of the Colla people in the northwestern provinces of Salta and Jujuy attend Catholic churches and also follow traditional forms of worship. In Catamarca province, there is an annual festival to honour Pachamama, who represents mother earth. 3. language Although Argentina's official language is Spanish, Argentinian Spanish is different rom the Spanish spoken in Spain.

In some ways it sounds more like Italian than Spanish. There are also many other languages spoken in Argentina, including Italian, Mapuche, Guarani, Aymara, Toba and Quechua. Did you know? In the Chubut Valley in Patagonia there is a Welsh settlement founded in 1865. For four generations, the settlers spoke Welsh, but the language is now dying out in this area. You can distinguish Argentinians from other Latin Americans by their use of "che". It comes from the language used by the Mapuche and means "man. " It is used as people in Canada might say, "hey" or "you know" or "eh.

For example, an Argentinian might say, "Che, veni" ("Hey you, come here") to get someone's attention. Another important difference between the Argentinean way of speaking Spanish and the Spanish spoken in Spain is the use of "vos" instead of "tu" (you ) and a very strong pronunciation of "y" and "II" as "sh". A special slang, called lunfardo, originated in the slum neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires in the late 19th century. Today most Argentinians are familiar with at least a few words of lunfardo. Lunfardo contains elements of Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and other languages, but with a distinctive wist.

One of the most common ways to change a word is to reverse the syllables. For example, in lunfardo, "tango" becomes "gotan. " Argentinians love to discuss two topics, sports (especially f?tbol) and politics. Most people have strong opinions on these subjects and will discuss them with a passion. It is not unusual to find several conversations going on at once at a social gathering. 4. Education Education is highly valued in Argentinian society. The Argentine National Council of Education sets a standard curriculum that is followed by schools throughout the ountry, because it is believed that a national education system promotes unity.

Kindergarten is optional for children aged four and five. Mandatory education begins at age six and ends at fourteen. Public primary schools are free, but there are no public school buses and students must buy their own books and uniforms. The uniforms look like white laboratory coats and are worn over regular clothes. Private schools are often sponsored by churches or organizations and charge tuition fees. For children with special needs, there are separate programs. Did you know?

The Nobel prizes have been awarded to five Argentinians: Carlos Saavedra Lamas (1936) and Adolfo P©rez Esquivel (1980) for peace, Bernardo Houssay (1947) for medicine, Luis Federico Leloir (1970) for chemistry and C©sar Milstein (1984) for biology. school between 1 p. m. and 5 p. m. When students arrive, they raise the flag and sing the national anthem. During each session, they get three breaks of 10 minutes each for recess. In rural areas, some children go to school on horseback. Some large estancias have their own one-room schoolhouse for children living on the ranch.

Unless students need to work full-time to help their families, they may continue their education at secondary school. Those who want to go to university must attend secondary school for at least five years and take the bachillerato (baccalaureat) exam. Commercial and vocational schools are available for those who want careers in commerce, agriculture, fashion or technical occupations such as automotive mechanics. Schoolteachers are trained in an escuela normal (teachers' college). People who leave school to work may return when they are in their twenties to finish their secondary school studies.

Night classes are also available for those who work during the day. Argentina has about 50 universities. About half are public and tuition is free. The others are Catholic or private universities that charge fees. The University of Buenos Aires is the largest university in South America, with 140,000 students. The oldest university in Argentina is Cordoba, founded by the Spanish in 5. Culture The earliest inhabitants of Argentina were nomadic tribes of hunter-gatherers, who had fought the Incas and lived simply until the arrival of Europeans in the 1 500's. The first Spanish settlement was Santa Fe in 1573.

Buenos Aires was founded seven years later. At first the Spanish were unenthusiastic by the lack of gold and silver. Later they realized the potential of Argentina to supply food and animals to the cities in Peru and Bolivia. Huge areas of land estancias were given to settlers, and the Indians worked under a forced-labour system. After Napoleon's invasion of Spain, the country was left to fend for itself and began to foster a growing sense of independence, the Creoles (native-born) population even fought off British invaders. Following Napoleon's defeat the Spanish attempted to seize their colonies back.

By 1816, the eep division between Argentina and its mother country had become quite evident, and a party of separatists decided to declare the country's independence. One of the new patriots, Jose de San Martin, crossed the Andes to achieve independence for Chile and then headed to Peru to free Lima from the Spanish domain. Along with Simon Bolivar, Martin is credited with breaking off Spanish rule. The cattle ranchers became wealthy; and one of them Rosas, became a despotic leader and during his 20 year reign of terror many of the indigenous tribes were wiped out.

This trend continued as sheep were introduced and needed more land. During the 19th century, the British invested heavily in the opening up of the country by railways. A middle class evolved and industrialization advanced during World War II. The which had violent opponents and charismatic leaders such as Peron and his second wife Evita. During the 1970's a repressive government fought a war against left-wing guerrillas and as a distraction occupied the Falklands (Malvinas) in 1982. Thatcher's British forces defeated General Galtieri's conscripts and the Junta came to an end.

The re-introduction of democracy was the best result of the war. The 21st has seen a evere blow to the Argentine economy, and in two months the presidency changed five times. The current president is seeking a way to strengthen the once great country. Tourism is being promoted as a way to gain foreign currency. There has never been a better time to vist the country. Argentina's culture has been greatly affected by its immigrant population, mostly European. Sadly they contributed to the demise of native cultures. The European immigrant groups each adopted different roles.

The Basque and Irish controlled sheep rearing, the Germans and Italians established farms, and the British invested in developing the infra-structure. More than one-third of the country's 32 million people live in Buenos Aires, the capital, which along with other urban areas accounts for almost 90% of the total population. The main indigenous peoples are the Quechua of the northwest and the Mapuche in Patagonia. Other can be found in the Chaco and the northeast. There are strong Jewish and Anglo-Argentine communities throughout the country; plus Japanese, Chileans and Bolivians; and pockets of Paraguayan and Uruguayan residents.

The universal language of Argentina is Spanish, but many natives and immigrants keep their mother tongues as a matter of pride. In Buenos Aires a city slang called lunfardo is used. Argentina has religious freedom, although the official religion is Roman Catholic. All over Argentina fine handicrafts can be found. The gauchos produce silver buckled belts, spurs, stirrups and the mate gourds from which they drink their mate through a silver straw. The indigenous groups produce wood carvings, weavings and textiles such as ponchos.

Argentina is one of the few South American countries with a thriving cinema and TV industry. Since the end of dictatorship and military rule the arts have flourished. Tango is the quintessential music and dance of Argentina, but ther folkloric traditions persist. There is even a home-grown rock music industry. The Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires is reputed to be one of the best and most outstanding theatres in the world. One cannot omit the national obsession with football but motor racing and polo also form part of the national psyche.

Fiestas & holidays The main holiday period is January to March (when the schools are closed), one should book along time ahead during this period. Easter and July are also busy times. The 10 November Dia de La Tradicion are like a gaucho games, with displays, music, and plenty of asado meat. The following is a selection of the special regional events occurring annually in Argentina: January Sea Festival, Mar del Plata; Jineteada (breaking in horses) and Folklore Festival, Diamante, Prov. Entre Rios; Chaya Doma (breaking in horses) and Folklore Festival, Intendente Alvear, Prov. La Pampa; Folklore Festival, Cosquin, Prov.

Cordoba. February Carnival, especially interesting in Gualeguaychu in the Province of Entre Rios and Ituzaingo in Corrientes; Pachamama (Mother Earth) Festival, Amaicha del Valle, Prov. Tucuman; Trout Fishing Festival, Rio Grande. February-March Festival of Tango, Buenos Aires March Grape Harvest Festival, Mendoza. March-April Holy Week, Salta; Festival of Our Lady Del Valle, Catamarca. July Poncho Week, Catamarca; Simoca Fair, Simoca, Prov. Tucuman; Santiago Week, Santiago del Estero; Dorado Fishing Competition, Formosa. August Snow Festival, Rio Turbio, Prov. Santa Cruz; Jujuy Week, Jujuy; Dorado Festival, Posadas, Prov.

Misiones; Snow Festival, Bariloche. September Chamam© Music Festival, Corrientes; Agriculture Festival, Esperanza, Prov. Santa F© October Fiesta de la Cerveza (beer festival), Villa General Belgrano; Festival of Tango, Buenos Aires November Sea Salmon Fishing Contest, Comodoro Rivadavia; Tradition Week (gaucho shows), San Antonio de Areco. December Gaucho Festival, Gral. Madaria, Prov. Buenos Aires; Trout Festival, San Junin de los Andes, Prov. Neuqu©n. Argentina's economy has traditionally been based on agriculture, but the industrial and service sectors have also grown in importance in recent years.

Livestock (cattle and sheep) and grains have long been the bulwark of its wealth; its cattle herds are among the world's finest. As an exporter of wheat, corn, flax, oats, beef, mutton, hides, and wool, Argentina rivals the United States, Canada, and Australia. Its other agricultural products include oilseeds, lemons, soybeans, grapes, and tobacco. Argentina is the world's largest source of tannin and linseed oil. The Pampa is the nation's chief agricultural area; however, since the 1930s there has been a great rise in production in other areas, especially in the oases of the Monte and the irrigated valleys of N Patagonia.

Although Argentina has a variety of minerals, they are of local importance and are not completely adequate to support the country's industries. Domestic oil and gas production has made the nation self-sufficient in energy; ipelines connect the oil and gas fields with Buenos Aires and other major refining centers. Argentina also exploits its ample hydroelectric resources. The large coal field of S Patagonia has low-grade coal. Food processing (in particular meatpacking, flour milling, and canning) is the chief manufacturing industry; motor vehicles, textiles, chemicals, petrochemicals, and steel are also major products.

Argentina's principal imports are machinery, motor vehicles, chemicals, metals, plastics, and other manufactured goods. The chief trading partners are Brazil, the United States, China, and Chile. Argentina is a member of Mercosur. In recent decades Argentina has experienced both inflation and recession. Privatization and other economic reforms begun by President Menem in the early 1990s produced unprecedented economic growth, but significant economic problems remained, including high unemployment and a massive national debt (due to freehanded government spending and widespread tax evasion).

The economy was hurt by Brazil's recession and currency devaluation in the late 1990s, but the pegging of the peso to the dollar combined with Argentina's own economic problems resulted in economic collapse in 2001. The economy did not begin to grow strongly again until 2003. The ancestors of most Argentineans of today originally came from Spain and Italy, with smaller percentages coming from other European nations and Middle-Eastern countries. The country also has a Jewish population of about 350,000, the fifth-largest in the world, and a similar number of Syrian Lebanese people.

There are some indigenous communities that live in the northeast areas of Argentina and in the Patagonian region. Argentina has recently received an important intake of immigration from neighbouring countries, mainly Paraguay, Chile, Bolivia and Uruguay. The immigration from Per? is also significant. Gaucho is a traditional word meaning country man of South America from Indian and Spanish descent. Till the beginning of this century, there were gauchos in Argentina who spent their days working and riding their horses around the large "estancias"(similar to Australian stations), and looking after cattle that roamed the Pampas.

Gauchos often featured as heroes in last-century poems, stories and folkloric songs. Food way to eat beef is the "asado" (barbecued beef ribs), whereas whole sides of beef or kid may be spit roasted for large gatherings. Also popular are "empanadas" which are crescent-shaped pies usually filled with meat or corn, and "Locro," a type of stew made with corn, beans, potatoes and peppers. The national drink is "mate" (pronounced mat-A), a green tea made from the leaves of "yerba mate", a national herb. Clothing City people dress in garments similar to those worn by Australians.

Rural workers may wear the traditional gaucho clothing: a wide brimmed hat, a poncho, and a loose pair of trousers tucked into boots. Economy Primary Industry Argentina is rich in natural resources with a geological and climatic situation articularly suitable for developing forestry, agriculture, mining and fisheries. It also boasts of large petroleum, gas and uranium reserves. Agriculture: Argentina is famous for its agricultural production. With over 54 million head of cattle, Argentina's beef is renowned around the world.

Annual production of cereals and oilseeds exceeds 70 million tonnes, which makes Argentina one of the main exporters of these products and their derivatives. One of the country's largest sheep grazing regions, which is also one of the largest regions for growing fruit and vegetables, is found in Patagonia, in the south. The typical farms associated with this production are surprisingly similar to those found in Australia. Mendoza on the western border is the centre of wine production. Argentina is the worlds fifth-largest producer of wine.

Most Argentineans drink wine with every meal, a traditional custom introduced by the European immigration. Exports are continually growing, Mining: The Andean Mountains provide Argentina with rich mineral deposits. Some of the minerals which are being mined at present are, copper, tin, lead, zinc, gold, silver, and uranium. The main exploitation of copper and gold, Minera de la Alumbrera, in the Province of Catamarca, is an Australian venture. Gas and Oil: are important resources being increasingly exported to the neighbouring countries and to the world market. Together with mining products they make out for 15% of total exports.

Top Manufacturing Sector The industrial sector includes manufacturing and construction. Among Argentina's manufactured goods are processed food, textiles, clothing, metallic and non-metallic mineral products, wood products, paper, pharmaceutical products, chemicals and petrochemical products, aluminium, steel, cars, electrical machinery and appliances, achine tools, turbines, cranes, agriculture machinery, and space and nuclear products. Construction, engineering and consultancy activities have developed to an important stage, extending to the Latin-American market and other countries.

Top Transport Land: Public transport includes buses, railways and subways. Most of Argentina's goods are transported by truck although railways are becoming increasingly important in the transportation of domestic cargo. Air: The most widely-known national airline is Aerolineas Argentinas which has been operating for more than 60 years. It covers nearly all the domestic routes and has also an important continental and inter-continental network. There are also other private airlines that have been between Sydney and Buenos Aires, with a short stopover in Auckland, New Zealand.

Water: There are numerous coastal and international ocean and river companies that offer freight or passenger transport. Several Ocean Lines serve the route between Australian and Argentinean ports. Top Communications Postal and telecommunications services are run by private enterprises which have been operating in free competition since the beginning of 2000. The first post office opened in 1814. Satellite tracking stations and digital technology provide domestic and international telephone communications linked to every country in the world. There are about 40 television stations and 200 radio stations in Argentina.

Export Argentina's exports, which reached 30 billion $1JS in 2003, are composed of 24% primary agricultural commodities, 13% fuels and minerals, 36% processed agricultural products and foodstuffs, and 27% industrial products. 7. People (ethnic backgrounds) Argentines have a reputation in South America for being arrogant. In my experience they have a well deserved reason for national pride. Argentina is the 8th largest country in the world, stretching from deserts at the Bolivian border, to tropical jungles at Iquazu Fallsto the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere - Mt.

Aconcagua, a 22,831 foot extinct volcano - to a Darwinian paradise, Tierra del Fuego,Just 600 miles from the Antarctic continent - see Maps of the Argentine provinces. Its history ps the millennia from the greatest age of the dinosaurs, the magnificent Inca Empire, the golden age of Spanish Imperialism and the stablishment of the third wealthiest democracy in the Western hemisphere. Despite American commentators who stress that "... Argentina is an economic basket case... " due to the mercurial whims of political and economic elites - a situation to which no nation has ever had an immunity - I find no evidence of "national depression. What I experience is a thriving society that is aware of the insecurity of economic good times but in love with life. The buzz of Buenos Aires's Manhattan with an Italian awareness of the present - fathers and mothers with young children on their arms, professionals onducting business in a sidewalk caf©, small shops selling AR$60,OOO chinchilla fur bedspreads (US$18,OOO), food markets offering only organically raised poultry - they don't say it's organic, it Just is - and thousands of people at the weekend Feria de Mataderos.

Two hour lunch breaks are the norm. Restaurants, which normally don't open for dinner until 9:00 pm, are not full until 1 1 pm. A true "porteno" (native born resident of Buenos Aires) will have a distinct Italian lilt to their Spanish and say "ciao," not "adios," when saying "good-bye. " Cordoba is Old Spain - the intellectual eart of the nation. It's a city of eight universities, and the birthplace of the Jesuit philosophy of the social contract between rulers and the ruled - which is still in lively national debate.

The Inca Empire still touchesSaltaSalta the Beautiful, as it's justifiably known, bears the splendor of Colonial monuments, with archaeological proof of thriving indigenous cultures and the reality of street children eager to shine your shoes. Indigenous language communities founded 6,000 years ago are very much alive in the rugged, semi-arid yet stunning landscape of theAndean orld class vintages using irrigation technology first perfected by indigenous people over 3,000 years ago. Argentine vineyards are the highest in the world - up to 5,000 feet - with 350 days of warm sunshine.

TheArgentine Mesopotamiais a floating land of Jungles, massive rivers, the incomparable Iguazu Falls, splendid cities, mate plantations, magnificent ruins and giant, delicious fish. Patagonia,the vast region that conjures visions of another reality, is another reality. Welsh, German, English, French, Spanish, Eastern Europeans and indigenous cultures thrive on the Atlantic and Andean edges of this land. The long Atlantic coast is home to internationally protected wildlife sites, fishing villages and modern petroleum shipping ports.

The flat sparse interior is dotted by multi-thousand acre estancias (ranches), many of which have been owned by the original families for generations, with millions of sheep and a few gauchos. Welsh villages, the first European settlements in Patagonia, are complete with trim, vine covered cottages, pocket gardens and afternoon tea. In the Andean west, are the finest ski resorts and fruit growing lands in South America. 8. Family/culture There is no typical Argentinian family. Family life differs according to many factors, such as religion, region, ethnic background and income.

Traditionally, fathers were considered the head of the family, mothers were in charge of the household, and young married couples lived with their parents in quarters built onto the house. Now, most Argentinians believe that women have the right to a career as well as marriage and family. Some families have hired help to do domestic chores. Young married couples usually find a place of their own rather than living with parents. Did you know? In Buenos Aires, a cosmopolitan city of over 13 million residents, there is a saying that a Porteno "speaks Spanish, eats Italian, dresses like a Frenchman and thinks he is an Englishman. Sixty percent of Argentinians own their homes and often build additional rooms rather than moving to larger houses. Most Argentinians live and work in urban areas. About a third of the population lives in and around Buenos Aires. In small cities and the suburbs, people live in single- family homes, but in Buenos Aires, most people live in apartment buildings. The apartments have modern facilities, but rent and electricity are very expensive. Rent can take a large portion of monthly earnings for some families.

Housing construction has not kept pace with the number of Job seekers heading into the cities. The housing shortage has resulted in the growth of villas miserias, shacks made of pieces of wood, tin and other materials found by residents. There is no running water, sewage system or electricity in these areas, and the residents often suffer health problems because of contaminated water. There are still large farms or estancias in Gauchos, who wear the traditional baggy pants and flat-topped hat, still work on ome cattle ranches.

In Patagonia the estancias may be sheep ranches. In other areas, the estancias may have vineyards, orchards or fields of grain. Some very large estancias are like little villages, with their own chapels and schools. Sometimes the wife and children of the owner live in the city while the children are at school. The 300,000 indigenous people in Argentina live in small rural communities or in the cities. One important group is the Wichi, who live in the marshy area near the river Pilcomayo in the north of the country and Mapuche in the Neuqu©n province.

Although many indigenous Argentinians have preserved their traditional way of life, others have adopted a more European lifestyle 9. Government Argentina has seen some interesting events in respect to government and politics (too detailed to elaborate on as part of this article, but certainly worth further research if you are interested) and following a period of military dictatorship which ended in 1983, Argentina returned to the 1853 Constitution which was further amended in 1994. Government in Argentina is now operated via a representative, republican federal system which is similar to the federal system in the USA.

The government in Argentina is formed of two separate legislative branches which are executive and bicameral and of these two houses, the Senate has 72 seats and the Chamber of Deputies has 257 seats. Argentina is further divided into a Federal Capital (the City of Buenos Aires) and 23 Provinces. The Federal Government of Argentina is lead by the President. Until the change to Constitution in 1994 (referred to above), it was necessary that the President be a Roman Catholic. Changes to the Constitution also permitted the reelection of the President for a further 4 year period as opposed to the original 6 year period.

Each Province within Argentina has its own Governor, Chamber of Deputies and Senate. The Federal Capital in Buenos Aires, has an elected Mayor allowing for self government. The balancing of power in the government of Argentina is not straightforward. The primary reason for this being that 70% of the population falls under the remit of the Federal Capital and the provinces of Santa Fe, Buenos Aires and Cordoba. Consequently they are able to provide a powerful counterweight to the Federal government, particularly if they are controlled by the opposition.

In respects to Political Parties in Argentina, the spectrum of parties is broad and diverse and at least 20 parties are represented in the Congreso. Local parties have considerable power within some of the provinces. The Sapag familys Partido Popular Neuquino in Neuquen for example has driven some of Argentina's most progressive social policies. A recent concern for the government in Argentina is the lack of interest that the younger generation take in government and politics and their resulting voting apathy. No doubt however, the same concern exists for a significant number of countries. 10. Pastime activites

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