Christmas in Uruguay is celebrated with a public holiday every 25 December, as it is in a majority of countries around the world. This Christian festivity commemorates the birth of Jesus, and is part of a 22-28 day season in the Christian calendar known as Advent.
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Santa is not called “Santa” in Uruguay but “Papa Noel” instead. Parents tell children that he lives on a star in the night sky, and they get the children distracted staring at the star while some other adult hides the presents under the Christmas tree in the house. Then, someone shouts out the news that Santa has come and left gifts but has already left. All of this happens invariably at the stroke of midnight.
You will see some Christmas trees in homes in Uruguay, but they are difficult to find and are becoming less common. It is much more standard to just have a nativity scene, often set up in a fireplace or some other part of the house. Baby Jesus is not placed into the manger until Christmas morning.
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