8 Latin American holidays your business should be aware of

Becoming immersed in the culture of one’s host country is essential to a foreign business’s success. You don’t want to be left out of all the traditions and beliefs that make each region unique.

Hence the need to know by heart – and take part in – Latin American holidays. And not just the most globalised ones, like Christmas.

How local holidays can impact your business

Local holidays in Latin America can affect your business in many ways. First of all, they can entail new marketing requirements. Take advantage of the holiday season and maximise sales during these peak times.

They will also impact your revenue and increase competition, for better or for worse. Be prepared. The fact that you’re reading this article is a good start!

Latin American holidays you should know about

First things first: in addition to being culturally significant, holidays are days of rest in Latin America. So adjust your company schedule with that in mind. Working on holidays costs companies more in certain countries, like Brazil.

There are 20 countries in Latin America. Talking about every holiday in each one would take too long, so we’ll focus on 8 of them here:

  1. Carnival
  2. Pan American Day
  3. Simón Bolívar’s Birthday
  4. Las Fiestas Patrias
  5. Feast of the Virgen de Urkupiña
  6. Batalla de Boyacá
  7. Día de La Raza
  8. Día de Los Muertos/Day of the Dead

1- Carnival

This holiday is celebrated at the end of February or in early March, during the Pre-Lent period – a 40-day period during which Christians remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which marks the end of Lent. The biggest Carnival event takes place in Brazil, but other Latin American countries celebrate it in their own way.

The Carnival holiday falls on a Tuesday, but the party starts at least three days before. Millions of people all around the world travel to Brazil to celebrate in parties and public events, dress up and have a lot of fun.

2- Pan American Day

On April 14th, many North and South American countries celebrate the First International Conference of American States, which led to the International Union of American Republics.

Expect parades, plays at schools, orchestras, and even pageants on this date.

3- Simón Bolívar’s Birthday

Held in Venezuela on July 24th, the holiday celebrates the life of Simón Bolívar – one of the most powerful leaders in South America. His legacy has bestowed upon him the title of ‘El Libertador’ or ‘The Liberator.’ The holiday encourages national and cultural pride.

4- Las Fiestas Patrias

Las Fiestas Patrias are the two most important holidays in Peru, celebrated on July 28th (marking the liberation of Peru from Spain) and 29th (marking the establishment of the Republic of Peru).

Expect festivities in the Plaza de Armas of every city in Peru. The celebration begins on July 27th, when the streets are filled with Criolla music and the Peruvian flag flies from nearly every building.

5- Feast of the Virgen de Urkupiña

This Catholic holiday is celebrated in Bolivia on August 15th. For three days, a colourful festival honours the Virgen de Urkupiña.

Mass prayers are held, and devotees march to the Holy Hill in processions to feel close to her.

6- Batalla de Boyacá

Back in Venezuela, the Boyacá Battle is one of the most significant events in the country’s history, and marks the freedom of the Colombian people from Spanish hegemony.

Currently, the bridge of Boyacá (where the battle occurred) is considered a symbol of freedom and one of the main tourist attractions in the region.

7- Día de La Raza/ Day of race

This holiday serves as a reminder to colonised countries of their native cultures and traditions. It marks the day that Columbus arrived in America, and the imposition of European culture on the continent first began. The holiday is celebrated on October 12th in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Uruguay and other countries.

8- Día de Los Muertos/Day of the Dead

This Mexican celebration is of indigenous origin, and has existed since the time of the Aztecs and the Mayans.

Initially it was celebrated throughout August, but European settlers moved the date closer to All Souls’ Day (November 1st and 2nd).

Mexicans believe that the souls of the dead return to Earth on this day, to be with their loved ones.

They prepare altars, dress up, make offerings to the dead, and celebrate their lives throughout the streets of the country. It is a colourful and emotional holiday to be part of.

Bonus – La Batalla de Puebla (Cinco de Mayo/May 5th)

Here is an additional Latin American celebration which isn’t a holiday, but should be considered nonetheless. Mexicans all over the world look fondly on this date when, in 1862, the country unexpectedly defeated the French army. According to Time Magazine “The Puebla victory has come to symbolise unity and pride for what felt like a Mexican David defeating a French Goliath”.

Other traditions which are as relevant as May 5th include:

  • Christmas Posadas
  • Noche de Rabanos
  • Puerto Rico’s Parrandas
  • Año Viejo
  • Día de los Reyes Magos

These are all huge festivities that can impact your business – either positively or negatively, depending on whether you opt to respect the culture surrounding your company.

Set your business up to embrace these Latin American holidays and traditions, and your company will gain respect and positive results among the locals.

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