Exploring Paraguayan Culture

Paraguay is a country with long traditions, a passion for soccer, and fascinating natural wonders. A mix of the indigenous Guaraní Indian culture with the Spanish conquistadors resulted in friendly, warm, and welcoming people who are proud of their riverside capital of Asuncion, Jesuit mission ruins, and national parks.
Most people in Paraguay are mestizos, people of mixed European and Indian descent, and most are bilingual in Spanish and Guaraní. In fact, it’s common to see Guaraní Indians selling feathered headdresses in city plazas or locals riding through the streets in horse- or ox-drawn carts. Paraguayans are very hospitable and enjoy a peaceful, leisurely paced life. Paraguay culture involves many traditions that celebrate its native arts, crafts, music, instruments, and dance.

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People and Community in Paraguay

AFS student with host family in Paraguay

Families are the center of Paraguayan culture. Families tend to be very traditional and protective of their children, especially daughters. For example, teenage males have much more liberal curfews than their sisters. Parents expect to know when their children are going out and where they are going. Most social activities, vacations and weekends are family events. Paraguayans are very hospitable, and conversation is a national pastime. In Paraguay culture, supervising the children and managing the household are typically the responsibilities of wives, while husbands are more occupied with work outside the home.

Language and Communication Styles in Paraguay

Students in Paraguay

The two official languages in Paraguay are Spanish and Guaraní.

Food in Paraguay

Chipa in Paraguay

In Paraguay, vendors sell food on the street almost anywhere, and it’s common for people to eat and drink their meals in public squares. Popular dishes include mandioca (cassava), sopa Paraguaya (cornbread baked with cheese, onions, and sometimes meat), chipa (hard cheese bread), tortillas, and empanadas (deep-fried meat or vegetable turnovers). Paraguayans often relax by drinking tereré (cold herbal tea) and mate (hot herbal tea) with friends and family. It’s common to share tea from a guampa (a container made of wood, cattle horns, or gourds), taking a sip through the bombilla (metal straw) before passing it on to the next person.

Paraguayans are accustomed to large meals at lunch and dinner, but breakfast is quick and light (milk, coffee or tea and bread). Meat is prominent in all national dishes. Corn, rice, potatoes and wheat are important staples, as are fruits in season. Paraguayan families eat their main meal of the day together, and on Sunday extended family gathers for dinner.

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