Chilean Culture


  • se cree el hoyo del queque = He thinks he is pretty important
  • se cree la muerte = He thinks he is pretty important
  • se cree la última chupada del mate = He thinks he is pretty important
  • a la pinta = del uno = del máximo = Cool!
  • recibir cuello = to get stood up or to not get something you wanted
  • mateo = very smart
  • requete-contra = very, for example, requete-contra lejo = very far
  • pato malo = a bad guy, hood
  • Más adelante, quisás, tal vez, si Dios quiere, de repente, a lo mejor, cualquier dia = a very polite "no"
  • chueco = roto = when applied to a person, means "crooked"
  • mas chueco que cola de chancho = more "crooked" than a pig's tail
  • cachivachi = junk, especially a car
  • paco = Cop (police), officially known as "carabineros"
  • cara de palo = cara de paco = stone faced, i.e. when trying to get away with something.
  • echar el pollo = to get out of somewhere
  • micro = bus
  • codo = apretado = tight with money, spend-thrift
  • mas apretado de mano de guagua = tighter (with money) than a baby's hand (or fist)
  • chascón = messy hair
  • toni = clown
  • chao pesca'o = good-bye and I never want to see you again
  • manzanita = sweetie, honey
  • Do not say "No Way" in English, it is very offensive in Chile.
  • To ask for eggs in a store or anywhere else, say "¿Hay huevos?" ("Are there eggs?") Don't ask why you have to say it this way, just do it.
  • pu (pronounced pooh) or po = pues, kind of like how Americans would use "man", i.e. for emphasis and punctuation. "¡Ya pu!"
  • ser metido = ser patudo = nosy, in or stepping in some else's business.
  • Mas metido que las manos de una partera = "Into more things than a midwife's hands", i.e. someone is a busybody.
  • Salta pa' la'o (salta para lado) = Jump aside, or get out of my way
  • Salí pa' 'lla (salí para alla) = sa' = "Get out of here", as in, I know you are teasing me, so stop it. (playful)
  • No estoy ni ahí = I'm not listing to you (very impolite)
  • cachaí = Understand?, e.g. cachaí gallo? or cachaí la onda?, used by lolos
  • lolos = young people
  • A todo chancho = full pig means full blast or full volume in English
  • A donde la viste = What you talking about?


  • It is very rude to speak in English in the presence of Chilenos.
  • Shake hands with everyone when arriving or leaving.
  • Never go barefoot.
  • Greet people with a kiss on the cheek (unless you are a missionary.)
  • They water their front-yard dirt in the morning, and then sweep it bare.
  • Dogs are everywhere.
  • They have a fear of the temperature, especially quick changes in temperature.
  • They drink a lot of beer, second only to Ireland, partly because it is cheaper than milk or soda.
  • Kids play with traditional toys-kites, marbles, trompas (tops), and soccer with anything that can be kicked.
  • Wards have between 60 and 120 active members
  • Negócios (kiosks) on every corner.
  • Women buy food enough for only one day.
  • They have an excellent mass-transit system, which also means that every other car on the road is a bus.
  • You call a bus by pointing your finger at the road.
  • Give hugs to everyone on new years, unless, again, you are a missionary.
  • They open all the presents on midnight Christmas eve.
  • They have Coffee for breakfast and once (afternoon "tea").
  • Monday is bean day--they usually have beans for dinner.
  • Many people do not have phones.
  • If someone does not want to talk to you, they will not come to the door.
  • La Feria is a neighborhood open air market, where fresh fruit and veggies are cheap.
  • Chileans eat a lot of arroz (rice).
  • If someone's hands are dirty, they will offer their elbow instead of their hand to shake.
  • When eating a meal, keep your hands where everyone can see them, i.e. not in your lap.
  • To call someone with your hand, flick your wrist with your palm down, hand open. Do not call someone with just your finger nor with your palm up.
  • In the north (at least), some people think you should not open and the close the door yourself as you leave someone's house. If you do, you will never come back to that house.
  • Chileans have their own tutear verb conjugations--noone ever says "estás" or "andas", their tutear is "estay" and "anday". Of course, missionaries do not tutear, anyway.
  • Chileans, as a rule, speak *very* fast. As a result, many times their "s"s and "d"s are barely audible. You will really sound like a gringo if you say "pescado" without clipping the "s" and practically forgetting the "d" altogether.
  • A common way to ask a girl if she would like to "go out" with you is to "mandar saludos", through a third party. You would say to your friend, "Go tell Julie that I 'le mando saludos a ella'". Your friend then goes to Julie, and says,"John te manda saludos." If she says, "le mando saludos a el", then she is interested. If she is not, then she does not. This system has the benefit of not embarassing yourself too badly to find out if she is interested. However, if the third party decides that he is interested and takes the initiative, then he may wind up dating the "girl of your dreams" instead of you. (It seems to me that girls can also "mandar saludos", but I am not sure.)


  • Empanadas--A sopaipilla (fried or baked dough) stuff with a meat/olive/onion mixture, or cheese, apples, etc. A recipe for empanadas submitted by Everett Black:
    • Dough:
      • 2 1/2 cups flour
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1/4 cup butter
      • 1/4 cup shortening
      • 1 egg
      • 1/4 cup water (will vary slightly)
      • Add salt to flour. Add butter and shortening until mixture is crumbly. Add egg. Add just enough water to make a soft dough. Roll dough out until it's approximately 1/8 inch thick. Cut out dough in circle (between six and eight inches - pan lids and coffee cans work well). Put 1/3 to 1/2 cup of filling in center of circle. Fold dough over. Wet edges with water and press together (with fingers or fork). Bake at 400 degrees F. for 25 - 28 minutes or fry in oil until brown. Makes 12.
    • Filling: (for empanadas de pino)
      • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
      • 1 large onion, chopped
      • 1/2 pound lean ground beef
      • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
      • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
      • 10 olives, sliced
      • 1/4 cup raisins
      • 2 boiled eggs, sliced
      • Heat oil in pan. Add onions and saute them until they are transparent. Stir in beef and cook until well-browned. Add paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper. Simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes (blends flavors). Remove from heat. Add sliced olives and raisins. Blend thoroughly. On each circle of dough (see above) put 1/3 to 1/2 cup of filling, top with egg slice, and cook as directed.
    • You can also use the dough recipe and cheese. Be very careful to seal edges of cheese empanadas before cooking - they make a real mess if they're not sealed well. For a slightly nicer texture, lightly coat outside of empanada with egg white before baking.
  • Porotos--beans
  • Lentejas--lentils
  • Ensalada de Tomates y Cebollas--Sliced tomatoes with chopped onions and oil.
  • Cazuela--Chicken soup, with rice, whole pieces of chicken, and oil
  • Manjar--carmelized sweetened condensed milk (Eagles Brand in the US boiled in the can for about 90 minutes)
  • Pan--wonderful, yet fattening bread, that is really yummy with butter, jam, manjar, etc.
  • Completos--Hot dogs, with buns and all the fixings. Quite nice.
  • Alfajores--Cracker-sandwich filled with manjar and covered with chocolate.
  • Pastel de Choclo (corn pie)
    • 2 onions
    • 2 tablespoons lard
    • 2 lbs ground beef
    • 1/2 cup meat stock (broth)
    • salt
    • red pepper
    • marjoram
    • cumin seed
    • 1/2 cup raisins
    • 8 oz. olives
    • 2 hard boiled eggs
    • 8 ears of corn, grated or ground
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1 cup leche
    • 2 beaten eggs
    • Chop the meat & brown in the lard. Add stock, salt, pepper, and spices. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add chopped onion and when cooked, thicken the gravy with 1 tablespoon flour dissolved in a little water. Pieces of cooked chicken may be added. Place the mixture in a baking dish. Scatter raisins, olives & sliced hard boiled eggs over it. Cover with the following mixture: Cook the corn with the butter & milk, stirring constantly. Add a little sweet basil, salt & sugar to taste, then the egg yolks & the whites beaten stiff. Pour over the meat. Sprinkle sugar and brown in the oven.

(Thanks to Ben Cloward for most of the customs and foods.)



"Viejito Pascuero"
This is a chant that the children in Chile say at Christmas. In Chilean custom, Santa Claus, known as Papa Pascual or Viejito Pascuero, comes to visit the child ren at their homes at midnight. Right before midnight, the children all go into the street and chant this chant, growing louder and louder. It is calling Santa to their home. While doing this, the parents of course put all the presents under the tree:
Viejito Pascuero
Recuerdate de mi
Me porto bien en casa
Tambien en el jardin

Corre El Anillo

This game is like Button Button, Who's got the Button. Everyone sits in a circle. One person is it and passes his hand over everyon's secretly dropping the ring into someones hand. All the while chanting the chant. When he stops, who ever is it has to guess who has the ring. If they guess wrong they have to give up something. To get that something back, they must do something silly which the person in the center with the ring gets to choose.
Corre el anillo
Por un portillo
paso una vieja
Comiendo lentejas
Paso un chiquillo
Comiendo huesillo
A todos le dio
Menos a mi
Eche preuda
Cabellero o Senorita
Quien la tiene de ustedes


"Si vas para Chile"

Si vas para Chile,

te reugo que pases,

por donde vive mi amada.


Es una casita,

muy linda y chiquita,

que este en las faldas,

de un cerro en clavada.


La adornan las parras,

la cruza un estero,

al frente hay un sauce,

que llora, que llora,

porque yo la quiero.


Si vas para Chile,

te ruego, viajero,

le digas a ella,

que de amor, me muero.


El pueblito se llama Las Condes,

y est junto a los cerros y al cielo,

y si miras de lo alto hacia el valle,

lo verás que lo baña un estero.


Campesinos y gentes del pueblo,

te saldrán al encuentro viajero,

y verás como quieren en Chile,

al amigo cuando es forastero.

(Lyrics supplied by Stephen Clarke)

"Himno Nacional de La Republica Chile"

Puro Chile, es tu cielo azulado

Puras brisas te cruzan tambien

Y tu cardo de flores bordados

Es la copia feliz de Eden

Majestuosa es la blanca montaña

Que te dio por baluarte el Señor

Y ese mar que tranquilo te bana

Te promete futuro esplendor

Dulce Patria decibe los votos

Con que Chile en tus aras juro

Que o la tumba sera de los libres

O el asilo contra la opresion.

(Lyrics submitted by Melanie (Roshto) Dunne)