Chile Culture and Traditions

Customs and traditions

According to Abbreviationfinder, Chilean label is not very different from the one in the West in general. Most often, Chileans are less formal than other Latin Americans, but some rules are still there. The Chileans are proud of their country and cultural heritage. Therefore, it is good if the person who is to visit Chile first tries to learn something about the country and its history.

Chileans are mostly friendly and polite even to strangers. They are known for their bitchy humor.

A person is often judged on how he / she is dressed – anyone who is not “whole and clean” risks not being taken seriously or that they look down on him / her. The Chileans themselves are careful with their clothing and often have a sophisticated style. However, they do not dress up for dinner, for example.

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

How to greet

When you meet a Chilean for the first time, you shake hands fairly formally while looking the person in the eyes and saying goodbye (buenos días) or what fits in time (buenas tardes in the afternoon and buenas noches in the evening). You do the same when you leave someone but then say adiós or use the less formal chao. Chileans may seem reserved compared to other Latin Americans, but this does not apply to those you know well. Then men can hug each other while women kiss on the cheek (right cheek, once, even men). You greet the oldest person first and you are happy to use titles. First name and address tú(you) are only used to close friends, so use last name and usted (you) until someone suggests something else. Men get up when a woman enters the room.

Many Chileans enjoy talking for a long time and discussing. It is not at all nonsensical to interrupt someone in the speech – on the contrary, it is considered a sign that you are interested in what is being said.

At a dinner party

If you are home-invited to a Chilean you should bring something – flowers (which you can also send in advance), chocolate or wine, preferably something to any children in the family. Remember that yellow roses signify contempt and purple flowers symbolize death. Anyone who receives a gift should open it immediately. Women should not give gifts to men in business, as it can be misunderstood and taken as an invitation.

Wait until you are assigned where to sit – women sit first. Thank you for food that is served and eaten on the plate but never take over. Sit with your hands on the table (but not the elbows), never eat with just the fork but use both knife and fork but don’t talk with cutlery in your hands. Wait for a drink until the host first bowls, say salud (bowl) and look it in the eyes as the bowl.

In Chile, you are more punctual than elsewhere in Latin America, but you usually never arrive earlier than 20 minutes after an agreed time for a dinner or other unofficial invitation (for official events or business meetings, however, you can arrive on time).

When Chileans talk to each other, they are often quite close to each other. Anyone who withdraws is considered either shy or unpleasant.

Business meetings

It is important to allow a meeting to take the time it takes and to devote plenty of time to initially talking about everything but business to get to know the counterparty and build confidence in it. Chileans are often perceived as honest and trustworthy, but they also want to be polite, which means that they avoid openly criticizing anyone or making negative comments. They try to avoid pure confrontations in their business meetings and sometimes say what they think you want to hear. Nor should anyone lose their dignity. Therefore, it is important to try to “read between the lines”, for example interpreting gestures and body language. Business cards, preferably with one page translated into Spanish, should be handed over at the beginning of a meeting. Be sure the card is in good condition – dog ears or stains can,

Things to avoid

Don’t try to bribe anyone, at least a police officer. Chile is perhaps the least corrupt country in Latin America. Do not discuss Pinochet and his dictatorship anyway, anytime and with anyone – it is a delicate subject where the Chileans are split. Do not yawn or stretch when others see – it is considered impolite. Never be condescending – instead, be as friendly and frequent as possible. Don’t talk too well and often about Argentina.

Traditions and holidays

Most religious festivals are linked to the Catholic faith (although, for example, Protestant or Jewish celebrations are celebrated) and many of these are national holidays.

In addition to weekends like Christmas and Easter, for example, Virgin Mary’s spotless birth (December 8) is celebrated, when many Chileans pilgrimage to the shrine of Santuario de la Virgen de lo Vásquez, eight miles from Santiago. On All Saints’ Day (November 1), the dead are celebrated with flowers and visits to the graves.

Sometimes the Catholic and indigenous peoples’ customs are mixed, like at the Tirana festival. It is held for three days in July in the village of the same name, located a few miles inland from the port city of Iquique in northern Chile, near the Atacama Desert. Here you dance on the streets of the village in colorful costumes and with devil masks.

According to Countryaah, the most important holiday is not religious. It is Chile’s Independence Day (September 18), which in 2010 was particularly festive as it was the 200th anniversary. Independence Day is celebrated, among other things, by folk dances, like cueca, and by flying kite. You also eat traditional dishes such as empanadas, (small pastries filled with meat, cheese, etc.), pastel de choclo (a meat stew cooked in special small black ceramic pots) or parrillada (various grilled dishes). Everything is washed down with large quantities of wine, pisco (grape wine) or chicha (apple brandy). During the celebration, special characters such as el huaso, the Chilean cowboy, orel roto chileno, the poor chilean who fought with Spanish courage and cunning.

Chile Immigration Statistics



Right success in the elections

13th of December

No candidate gets more than half the votes in the first round of the presidential election, so a second round is held in January. Sebastian Piñera of the Middle Right Alliance The Coalition for Change (formerly the Alliance for Chile) gets the most votes, 44 percent, and the second Eduardo Frei gets 30 percent. They will meet in a crucial election in January 2010. In the concurrent congressional elections, the outcome will be very even. The Coalition for Change gets 58 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 16 in the Senate, while the center-left Alliance Concertación gets 57 and 19 seats, respectively.


Tightened conflict with Peru

A Peruvian officer is accused of selling military secrets to Chile, something the Chilean government rejects. Relations with neighboring countries have deteriorated since Chile held a military exercise near the disputed border in October (see January 2008).


The President visits Cuba

President Michelle Bachelet visits Cuba. This is the first time in 40 years that a Chilean leader is visiting the Socialist State in the Caribbean.



Success for the right in municipal elections

The Middle Right Group Alliance for Chile takes place in local elections.


Volcanic eruptions lead to evacuations

Two cities in Patagonia must be evacuated when volcano Chaitén erupts after resting for 9,000 years.


Conflict with Peru on sea border

Peru appeals to the International Court of Justice in The Hague (ICJ) in the dispute with Chile over where the sea border between the countries should go.

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