Much ado is made in the United States over the recognition of non-Christian holiday traditions. But in Uruguay, where well over half the population identifies as Christian, the government marks Dec. 25 as a national holiday but makes no mention of Christmas – instead, as El Pais notes, the State calendar denominates it as “Día de la Familia” (“Day of the Famiy”) while referring to Semana Santa or Holy Week as the “Week of Tourism”, even as the streets of Latin America’s most homogenous country fill up with Christmas decorations and homes light up with trees. 

The secularized calendar dates back the 1918 approval of the country’s new, second constitution, which established a collective board to head the government’s new executive branch – a move meant to discourage a dictatorial figures’ rise to power.  In Oct. 1919, months after the new constitution became valid, the government’s new executive administration board signed off on a law approved by both legislative chambers which secularized religious festivals as recognized on the Uruguayan state calendar – if in name only, as the dates remained the same as before.

This year, Uruguayans were forced to sweat it out as they enjoyed their parrilla, panettone and torrone (washed down with medio y medio, a mixture of sweet bubbly and dry white wine), as summertime temperatures there hit 39 degrees Celsius, or over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  El Nacional reports that the country’s National Emergency System had recommended that residents drink plenty of water and take care not to overindulge on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to avoid heat-related health risks on the holiday.