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Uruguay Culture and Traditions

Customs and traditions

Uruguay has strong social and cultural roots in Europe, although, as in neighboring countries, there is a cultural heritage with African influences as well. Tangon has a central place, as well as the long carnival festivities that last for 40 days. Football is national sports and something of a national obsession.

Family life is important and you are happy to leave on Sundays for a meal with the extended family. It is relatively common for adult children to stay at home high up in their ages.

Uruguayans like to be polite and sincere, but quite direct. You stand close to the person you are talking to and look your partner in the eyes. Otherwise, one may be perceived as uninterested or dishonest. Greetings are usually done with a handshake, sometimes you also touch his or her partner's arm or shoulder. Friends can embrace each other and greet with a cheek kiss.

  • Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of Uruguay, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.

Politics is a popular topic of conversation and guests are welcome to ask questions about Uruguay. The national feeling is strong - it is important not to confuse Uruguayans with Paraguayans or Argentinians.

You should avoid pointing, if you want to indicate something or someone it is more appropriate to do so with a head gesture. Thumbs up or down are used much like in Sweden. An ironing with your fingers or the top of your hand under your chin means you don't know, or don't care.

Culture and Traditions of UruguayThe clothing style is western and often quite conservative. Tinted colors apply at least in a business context. In the countryside there are some who dress in a style influenced by the gaucho culture.

Like many other Latin Americans, Uruguayans often relate less accurately to time than a Swede is used to. Anyone who is invited to dinner at 9pm does not necessarily arrive much before 10pm. For business meetings, it is a good idea to be on time, but set to wait.

Guests can bring chocolate, flowers, preferably roses, or a bottle of wine or whiskey. A wrapped package should be neat and likely to open at once.

The Uruguayans are among the largest carnivores in the world. Beef and lamb are the most common varieties. Asado and parrillada are terms that include both barbecue events, ways to grill and even barbecue dishes. Sometimes a grill plate is served with meat, sausage and oatmeal. Chivito is a popular sandwich with steak meat and accessories. Fainá is a kind of pancake made on chickpea flour. As for the rest of the kitchen, the Italian heritage is reminiscent: pasta and pizza are common elements. Sweet condensed milk - dulce de leche- is a popular feature of desserts.

In Uruguay, wine is also produced. A common beverage is mate which is a caffeine-containing tea-like drink. You like to drink it from a gourd, with a metal straw called bombilla. It is common for Uruguayans to carry a thermos of hot water to brew some food at any time.

The most important national holidays are Constitutional Day on July 18 and Independence Day on August 25. It celebrates the signing of the first constitution in 1830 and the proclamation of independence in 1825.

Other historical events worth noting are the arrival of the 33 Patriots (April 19, in memory of freedom fighters who returned from Argentina in 1825), the Battle of Las Piedras (May 18, a commemoration of the Spanish in 1811) and José Artiga's birthday (19 June, see Older history).

Columbus's arrival in America is celebrated on October 12, but it has become increasingly controversial throughout the Western Hemisphere, due to the devastating impact of European colonization on the indigenous population. Since 2014, the holiday is called the Day of Cultural Diversity (Día de la Diversidad Cultural) in Uruguay, in an effort to make it more inclusive.

Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter are celebrated, although the Uruguayans are quite secularized - Christmas Day is often called "family day" and Easter week is called "tourism week". In addition to Christmas Day, Thirteen Day is also a public holiday.

New Year's Day and May 1 are also holidays in Uruguay.


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