Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Learning the Social Customs of Argentina


Argentina is a South American country where the people are primarily of European descent, mainly Spanish and Italian. There is a very small minority of mixed and native people. The official language of this country is Spanish, but it is a distinct form of Spanish that resembles some aspects of Italian.  Lots of people from other Latin American countries have a difficult time understanding Argentinian Spanish.

Argentina operates on a schedule similar to that of other southern European countries. Businesses will open early, close for a long break in the middle of the day, and then reopen for the evening.

In Argentinian society, the family is very important, and people are generally close to their extended families. People who take the role as the head of the family are well-respected, but in turn have a great deal of responsibilities to everyone else. Most people are Roman Catholic, but some Muslims have been moving to Argentina in the past few years.

In terms of greeting, you are expected to introduce yourself to the eldest or most respected person first and work your way to everyone else. The common gesture is a simple handshake and direct eye contact. Third party gatherings are also popular, so it is not a bad idea to wait for a host or hostess introduce you to everyone if you are at their house. When you depart, you should say bye to everyone individually.

People in Argentina are known to be direct and blunt, but still eloquent, when communicating. They are open and unreserved, and will welcome others. Do not be surprised if an Argentinian is comfortable with touching you while speaking, as this is customary.

If you are invited to an Argentinian home, you should bring something small for the hostess to be polite. It is considered classy to bring a bottle of foreign liquor, because there are high taxes on such imports. The only gift to avoid giving is scissors. You should dress well; men should wear a stylish shirt and tie, and women should wear a dress or skirt. People in Argentina are usually not punctual, so it is fine to show up 30-45 minutes late after being invited to an event or gathering.

For dinner, you should wait to be directed to a seat, and wait to be told to begin eating. You should not start drinking until the first toast has completed. When you finish eating, it is polite to leave a small amount of food on your plate.


10 thoughts on “Learning the Social Customs of Argentina

  1. Argentinians are a bunch of self-glorified Latinos… ensconced in a deep seated sense of inferiority, and cloaked in an all too apparent superiority complex. With all of their self-aggrandizing behavior, their GDP is only ranked #30 in the world, while Mexico’s GDP is ranked #14… that’s right, lowly Mexico is #14… and Venezuela is #27. That should say something about that pseudo-European country. If you want Europe… go to Europe.

  2. hello truthiness

    If you wrote such comment,I strongly believe that you got a problem maybe with an individual person over there in Argentina, bu that, does not allows you to point a finger against an entire nation.
    i kindly ask you to review your comment.


  3. We can read some inaccuracies above. Beginning with the fact that Argentine Spanish would be hard to other Spanish speaking people in the continent, which, basically is not true: Argentinians have their own way of speaking, but they make themselves perfectly clear to other Spanish speaking people. In Argentina, in general, there’s no such a big break on business -the “siesta” is common in a few provinces. And Argentine people do not use to touch each other while speaking. Finally, punctuality may not be an Argentine virtue, but be sure that in Argentina it is not fine to show up 30-45 minutes late after being invited to an event or gathering!

  4. Truthiness, if you need to show your GDP to prove that you’re worth something then YOU have the inferiority complex, amigo! Chill and don’t be jealous, man! Jealousy kills people from within. Saludos from Argentina.

  5. I am not sure how many of you are actually porteños, but here is food for thought.

    We are the number one producer, as we say, of ganado ovino y ganado vacuno mundial.

    Our Dialect called Lumfardo, in the poor Italian sections of B.A. is not understandable by anyone outside Argentina–akin to Caló, Gallego, or Catalán. I would have to say that with some argentines that are Italian decent the accent can be overwhelming at first, but most of the newcasters and telenovella have a high degree of both Argentina and Arabic actors…a reason for that too…Also, the border Argenitne accent is more influence from the Brazilians than Italian among the border areas.

    Contrary to most beliefs, we are not condesending of others just very direct, sometimes curt, but this is a cultural identity since we do it to one another as well.

    We are not, in most cases, mixed with indigenous blood from the Americas and thus retain more of a European mentality, with a unique Argintine flavor.

    Our cities model European ones rather than indigenous ones. Mexico may have a higher GDP or GNP, but that is directly tied to USA.

    Who is the player of the Year MESSI!!!

    I eat tacos, and I do not put people down speak with a different accent than I, but I do like to use Spanish the way I was taught as it gives me a sense of pride. Maybe other nations should have pride in their language as well.

    And yes, I am sure I made lots of spelling errors–English is my second language


  6. I do agree with the last comments since I consider you need enough knowledge to juedge a culture, and even in that case, check if thar information is correct. I’m Argentinian and for sure you CAN’T show up in a meeting 45 minutes later…never, ever…so, I also invite you to review your comment since that’s not a custom here… Que bueno que los argentinos sepamos defender las virtudes que tenemos y no dejemos que ”estereotipos y prejuicios” desdibujen nuestra identidad, besos!!

  7. Hey, I’m from LA and you can condescend to me all you want, as long as you don’t assault me! If condescending is the worst thing Argentinians do – I’m there!

  8. Ok, it’s true that Argentina is and has always been a country which tries to look like one from Europe. We have our oldest family that came from Europe and they taught us everything: how to work, how to build our buildings, how to speak, how to love and respect our family. Although, we are not an european country because we don’t have the thousands years of history that Spain, France, Italy do. We’re LATINOAMERICA, a mix of cultures from all over the world, we’re a country which is slowly growing. And that is what you will never see in other part of the world, this is what makes Argentina awesome, the people, the cultural variety.
    In here you can do european things like going to museums, northamerican things like shopping or you can just do “latinamerican” things like meet the aborigines, drink the usual argentinian drink called “mate”, or taste our best plate named “asado”.
    I invite all of you to discover this wonderful place near the end of the world. I assure you won’t regret and you will be treated nicely and respectfully.

  9. i loved argentina with a passion,and i cant wait to go back,the empinada here in NY is expensive,and tast like crap,lol,there are some places here that make a good steak,but there many places in Buenos aires that make a great steak,and i hate steak,lol,but what i wanted to ask is,is there anyone on this forum,that has a friend or relative living in NY? i would like to trade languages with them,if you do,my e-mail address is,[email protected]

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