Christmas Celebrations in India

Posted on 13th December 2017

star shaped christmas decorations

Here in the UK, Christmas is everywhere, everything is Christmassy and nothing remains untouched by sparkle, snowflakes and Santa hats. It’s the winter festival that we all love, coming together to celebrate love, light and to feast, no matter how we pray or practice. In India, the majority of people are Hindu and we’ve just celebrated Diwali. But Christmas is still a big event! Whilst only 2% of Indians are Christian, with such a huge population that still means 25 million people celebrating Christmas! Just as here in the UK we celebrate the festivals of faiths other than our own, so too do Hindus and Muslims celebrate Christmas in India. 

Joy to the World! 

Goa, Kerala and Mumbai have big Christian populations and the regions see a big influx of domestic and international tourists visiting to enjoy the Christmas festival celebrations. Goa is known for its parties along the beaches, the revelry is akin to Mardi Gras! 

Away from the tourist attractions, the villages of Goa decorate houses with nativity scenes in the front gardens and bamboo stars hanging from houses, lamps and trees. Decorative stars, often giant paper lanterns, are hung between houses in many regions, symbolising the lights that guided the three wise men. 

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree! 

Scandinavian trees, such as the traditional favourite Norway Spruce, are hard to come by in India. Instead mango and banana trees are used, or else a pine tree native to India for a more Western look. Decorated with trinkets, stars and lights, the Christmas tree is very much the same around the world. 

Bring us some figgy pudding..! 

Of course, we cannot talk about Christmas without talking about food! Traditional rich fruit Christmas cake is popular, as are neureos – flaky pastries filled with fruit and nut, almost like a deep-fried mince pie! Traditional sweets, treats and cakes are made throughout December to be shared with family, friends and neighbours. Christmas dinner is often eaten on Christmas Eve, before heading to evening or midnight mass. Customs for Christmas dinner change around the country, with many having curries as well as a Western style stuffed chicken, turkey or pork joint. Duck Moile, Chicken Shakuti and Wedding Rice are popular dishes across the regions for Christmas dinner. Just like here, it’s an elaborate meal with many dishes and enough to be eating leftovers for days to come! 

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