Article updated November 2015
For those from the northern hemisphere, Christmas in Santiago may seem a bit odd; the end of December is also the beginning of summer, and temperatures can reach above 90 degrees F (32 degrees C). Hence, it’s unlikely that the song “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” will hold much significance to a Santiaguino. Still, the spirit remains alive but with the atmosphere significantly more relaxed. While Santiago generally lacks the frantic shoppers, overdone Christmas displays, and the smell of pine in the streets, Christmas remains an important and special time.
Indeed, Christmas is celebrated by almost all Chileans and is a time to relax and spend time with family. Many residents will leave Santiago for Christmas to celebrate Christmas at their summer homes with their relatives. The time of most importance is Christmas Eve, when families get together to enjoy a meal and to exchange gifts. For young Chilean children, Christmas comes with a visit from Viejito Pascuero (Santa Claus) at midnight. Children stay awake late on Christmas Eve, waiting for Santa’s visit. Usually close to midnight parents “hear a noise” and run outside the house with their children in search of Santa, when they return, presents are mysteriously in place under the tree. Christmas Day is usually a day of relaxation as the big celebrations have already occurred. Do note that almost everything will be closed on Christmas Day in official celebration of the Christmas holiday.
If your holiday includes watching the Nutcracker, then don’t miss the Teatro Municipal de Santiago’s Show, 2015 holiday performances are scheduled between November 29 and December 28, tickets start at $3.000 CLP for general admission.
If you prefer a live Christmas tree, which are harder to find for sale in Chile, you can get one delivered to your home from Pinos Naturales de Navidad.
Some Popular Christmas Traditions in Chile Include:
– A large meal on Christmas Eve: A family dinner that typically includes a roast turkey. If you’re looking for tips on cooking a Christmas Eve Feast here in Santiago, check out our Thanksgiving article for lots of ideas on where to buy or order your supplies.
– Secret friend: Secret Friend (like Secret Santa) is a common practice in the workplace or among friends. Participants choose a name of a coworker or friend who they must buy a gift for. Gifts are exchanged at a relaxed holiday gathering.
– German traditions: Some Chileans have German traditions for their Christmas celebrations (there was a large group of Germans who came to the South Chile to settle in the 1800s). It is common to see German decorations, foods, etc., in large supermarkets like Jumbo.
Great Places to Shop for Chilean Holiday Gifts:
– The Outlet Malls, Easton Outlet Mall has an Expo Navidad (Christmas expo) with up to 70% discount on toys. Buenaventura is also having an Expo Juguetes (toy expo).
Places to See Great Decorations:
– Costanera Center: You can visit with Viejito Pascuero here from December 1-24, and they always have an annual Christmas display starting the end of October. This year head out at night and check out their holiday light display on Costanera Torre from 9PM-12AM!
– Alto Los Condes has visits with Viejito Pascuero from December 2-24.
– Portal La Dehesa also offers visits with Viejito Pascuero from December 2-24.
– Windows of Paris: Don’t miss the windows at this department stores location at Costanera Center.
– Drugstore: Check out the retro Christmas trees here.
– The streets of Providencia, including Avenida Providencia and Nueva Providencia, and in Santiago Centro the pedestrian street of Huerfanos are full of vendors selling Christmas cards and decorations and often musicians singing Christmas songs. The Christmas dog pictured was spotted near Calle Huerfanos.
Places to Eat Christmas Dinner:
Most places offering a Christmas dinner are hotels, many local restaurants are closed to allow their employees to spend the holiday with their family. Additionally most of the dinners are on the evening of the 24th as that’s the big celebration day here.
For a listing of places offering a special dinner this year in Santiago check out Zomato usally has Christmas event listings.
– The Sonesta Hotel Osorno, in Osorno, is having a Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day breakfast, $20.000 CLP for adults, $9.000 CLP per child, reservations required.
Additionally in 2013 the following locations held holiday dinners:
– The Hotel Plaza San Francisco, in Santiago is having a Christmas dinner for $69.900 CLP per adult, $48.900 CLP per child, reservations required.
– The Giratorio Restaurant, in Santiago, is having a Christmas Eve dinner, $55.500 CLP for adults, $19.000 CLP per child, reservations required.
– The Weskar Patagonian Lodge, in Puerto Natales, Patagonia, is having a Christmas dinner $17.500 CLP per person, reservations required.
Feliz Navidad a Todos!
Note: This story was accurate when published. Please be sure to confirm all details directly with the sites in question.