Having been colonized by a number of European countries in the past, Argentina is a smorgasbord of influences that define its identity. Significant influences include that of Spanish, French, British, and Italian culture, as well as African and their very own gaucho culture. Cultural symbols include tango - influenced by jazz and swing of the US and started out being affiliated with Argentina's lower classes; and football - a national sport brought upon by the British in 1860 to veer men away from the associated indecency of tango at the time.
Customary etiquette and traditions of Argentina include:
Kissing someone on the cheek when you greet them, whether a man or woman, whereas formal settings require a simple handshake;
Greeting friends and colleagues with the colloquial form vos, which means you, and usted for elders and superiors;
Touching each other while talking - something that feels awkward for foreigners but may offend Argentinians when their physical proximity and contact are rejected;
Lounging for hours in cafes;
Drinking the national drink of yerb mate that's passed around in a table with everyone drinking from the same metal straw;
Art and Architecture
Argentina has a number of famous artists and architects who are known worldwide. Among these are Art Deco architect Cesar Pelli, who designed the Petronas Towers in Malaysia, and the Norwest Center on Minneapolis; and Francisco Gianotti, who added flair to the cities of Argentina in the early 20th centuries with his unique blend of Art Nouveau and Italian styles.
Architecture and structures around the country are influenced by their colonizers, like the Spanish baroque architecture found in the Cathedral of Cordoba and the San Ignacio Mini.
The arts are supported by private foundations and national institutions and several platforms for artists to show their craft and skills are found all throughout the country. In Buenos Aires alone, there are over 60 art galleries and plenty of others scattered around the country.
Some of Argentina's early 20th century artists have also influenced world art, such as the Madi Movement by Gyula Kosice, and the Florida and Boedo artistic movements in the early 20th century.
The country's literature is heavily influenced by European styles such as the Modernist and Vanguardism of the 20th century. The most popular writers are Jose Luis Borges, along with other major writers such as Esteban Echevaria who wrote El Matadero, and Julio Cortazar, who is among the founders of the Latin American Boom that influenced generations of writers in the Western world.
Because Argentina's culture cannot be defined with one distinct identity, social rules and values are varied. People are mostly conservative due to the Spanish influences and that of the Roman Catholic Church. Social classes are also well delineated with the upper and lower classes. Upper classes predominantly make up those who own large estates while the large middle class is made up of the working population, and the lower class residing in slums and other rural areas. Classes can also be deciphered through manners of dressing, speech styles, and body language.
Argentinians wear clothes that are similar to the United States and most Western countries. The common jeans and t-shirt combo are a common sight, as well as sweaters in the colder seasons. But since the climate is warmer compared to other Western countries, dressing is lighter with minimum layering.
Argentinians love to dress up and prefer well-fitted clothing over loose and casual. It's common to see women in dresses and sandals and men in shirts and dressy shoes. The gaucho style of clothing is not appropriate in the cities but only in the rural areas or villages.
Gaucho clothing consists of a wide brimmed hat, a poncho, loose trousers, and shoes made of rope and canvass.
Argentina is the world's biggest consumers of red meat and beef is found in most dishes. French-influenced cuisine is preferred for special occasions while steak and pizza restaurants are the most popular. Asado is a popular food, which is essentially barbecue, as well as parrillada which contains all the parts of a cow.
Snacks and desserts usually involve the dulce de leche - blend of milk and sugar spread on toast and bread; the empanada - meat turnovers; and gelatto ice cream.
Celebrations and festivals in Argentina revolve around the Roman Catholic Church, nationalism, and adapted European festivals. Here's a list of the country's most celebrated festivals:
The National Festival of Folklore
Held in Cosquin, Cordoba, this event is one of the biggest and most important in Latin America. It's a 9-day celebration of Argentine folk tradition complete with costumes, dancing, exhibits, and concerts.
El Dia de Tradicion
Held annually every 10th of November, this festival is 1 whole week of parties, concerts, parades, and feasts, to celebrate the birthday anniversary of Argentinian writer and poet - Jose Hernandez.
El Carnaval del Pais
For 2 weeks before Lent, Gualeguaychu, between Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls, holds the largest carnaval in the country. People are dressed in costumes, dance in the streets, and bars and establishments host parties that last until wee hours of the morning.
The third biggest Oktoberfest in the world after Munich and Blumenau in Brazil, Cordoba's Villa General Belgraro hosts 5 days of drinking to coincide with the other celebrations around the world.