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December 25, 2008
Uruguay makes summer Christmas white with polar bears

In the southern hemisphere, the holiday season falls in the middle of summer.

Benjamin Gedan is a Fulbright research scholar living in Montevideo and studying the Uruguayan media. He writes at his blog, “Small State,” about one Uruguayan mall’s attempt to recreate a “white Christmas.”

Christmas in the southern hemisphere

Esos son días de mucho comercio” (“These are big shopping days”), my taxi driver in Mendoza, Argentina, told me on the way to the bus station last Tuesday, explaining the large weekday crowds on San Martín, Sarmiento and Las Heras. The same was true this morning at the Villa Biarritz feria in Montevideo, Uruguay, where navigating past the clothing stalls to reach the fruit and vegetable stands was practically an Olympic event.

But aside from all the retail activity, it’s hard to remember that it’s Christmas time here in South America, what with everyone always heading for the beach. It turns out, it’s not just we Northern Hemisphere types that associate Christmas with winter. At the Punta Carretas mall in Montevideo, the Christmas display is dominated by polar bears, and during the twice-daily music show (highlighted by the Spanglish hit “Feliz Navidad”), fake snow drifts down from the ceiling.

Here’s a brief video I recorded showing Uruguayans’ only opportunity to experience a “white Christmas”:

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they are not real… in case you did not notice they are fake


They are uruguayan polar bears, which means they probably suffer clinical depression. It is late december, which means their psychiatrist is on vacation until 1 March. He is on the beach in Punta del Este…


How sad..those polar bears there..they don’t show happiness at all!!!…look at their faces..please..take them out there!!!!Thanks..

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