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The Only Latin American Country Without Christmas

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Latin America Christmas Uruguay
Uruguay is the only country in Latin America that does not officially recognize Christmas. Credit: Alhill42/Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 4.0

In Colombia and all over the world, Christmas stands out as an important religious celebration, with vibrant street and home decorations, gift exchanges, and families gathering for Christmas Eve festivities. However, the South American nation of Uruguay distances itself from this Christian tradition. Here, Christmas is not officially recognised, and has been removed from the calendar.

A century without Christmas in the Latin American country of Uruguay

For a century, Uruguay, by law, has refrained from officially celebrating Christmas. Also, it has refrained from other religious festivities, such as Three Kings’ Day, Holy Week, and the Day of the Virgin.

The root of this unconventional stance lies in Uruguay’s deliberate separation of church and state, a process initiated in 1860 with the decree known as the ‘Secularization of Cemeteries’.

However, it wasn’t until 1917 that Uruguay enshrined the separation of church and state in its constitution, ensuring freedom of worship. Consequently, the Catholic institution gradually lost both tangible and symbolic influence within the South American nation.

Family day instead of Christmas

In the quest to maintain this distinctive separation, Uruguay replaced religious celebrations with alternatives. Instead of Christmas, Uruguayans commemorate Family Day.

It is crucial to note that celebrating Christmas is not prohibited in Uruguay, and citizens are allowed to decorate their homes with festive lights if they wish.

In a world where Christmas is often synonymous with festivity and cultural unity, Uruguay confers the freedom to celebrate all faiths, but above all, to celebrate family.


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