Christmas in Chile

That’s right; I said it. The “C” word. Not Happy Holidays or Seasons Greetings, but Christmas. Here in Chile, we don’t go in for PC, diverse, inclusive messages of holiday cheer – it’s straight-up Feliz Navidad.

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Outside La Moneda, the seat of the executive branch / CC BY 2.0

My dirty little secret is that I like it. I come from the San Francisco Bay Area, a bastion of all that is, well, PC, diverse and inclusive. I don’t remember when I was taught that it’s better to say one of the non-religious wintertime greetings because I think I always knew. I understand that the thinking is that while I celebrate Christmas, you may not, but I have to say I find it a little silly. If someone were to wish me a Happy Hannukah or Kwanzaa or Ramadan or whatever, I’d take it as their way of wishing me well rather than an attempt at converting me.

That’s why being in primarily Catholic Chile at this time of year is refreshing. Although the weather may not have me thinking Christmas, most apartment and office buildings have a decorated tree in the lobby. And it’s festive, damn it. I like that magical elves (or secretaries, close enough) decorated our office with garlands that have a decidedly red and green bent. They may not encompass the personal beliefs of every person in my office, but they sure brighten up grey-blue cubicle walls.

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I’m not by any means saying that everyone should celebrate Christmas. I’m not religious, so I can’t get too excited about the real reason behind it all, and if you have your own favorite holiday then I wish you a very good one of those. And if I bump into you on the street, I hope you’ll understand what I mean when I say “Merry Christmas.”

Emily Williams is a US gringa living in Santiago, Chile. She writes about expat life at and on her personal blog, Don’t Call Me Gringa, and loves hearing from readers!

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  1. I too enjoy the non-PC “Merry Christmas” I’m experiencing here in Italy. I’m from Seattle, so… I understand what you mean about the PC stuff. :-)
    With that in mind, Merry Christmas!

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