Have you ever considered Christmas as an opportunity for self-examination and inner growth? If so, you’ll be delighted to know that India provides an incredible array of Christmas celebrations that are destined to inspire you.
India has a remarkably unique and rich culture. Therefore, Christmas in India is unquestionably an absolute delight to experience, with a festive atmosphere that is marked with tremendous devotion and excitement.
Let’s explore how Indians celebrate the festive season of Christmas.
History of Celebrating Christmas in India
One of the most celebrated holidays in India is Christmas, a time for families to gather around and commemorate the birth of Jesus. In line with the current time in India, Christmas is celebrated on December 25.
Even though Christianity arrived in India in or around 52 A.D., celebrating Christmas in India didn’t get there until after European immigrants. After India gained independence, Europeans fled, but the traditions, customs, and festivals persisted. Being a multireligious, multilingual, and multicultural nation, India has included Christmas in its culture.
Due to the limited percentage of Christians in India (approximately 2.3%) compared to those who practice other religions, Christmas is a relatively minor holiday compared to other religious celebrations. Given that India has a population of over 1 billion, more than 25 million Christians live there.
Mumbai is home to one of the biggest Indian Christian communities in a metropolis. Roman Catholics make up a large portion of the Christians in Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay. About 26% of the population in Goa, the smallest state in India and located in the west, is Christian. Many of the Christians in Mumbai are either native to or have ancestors there. Additionally, there are significant Christian populations in the far-eastern Indian states of Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Mizoram.
For Indian Christians, particularly Catholics, midnight mass is a highly sacred ceremony. The entire family will walk to church together, and the service will be concluded with a huge feast of delicious foods, usually curries, as well as gift-giving. The Christmas Eve Midnight Mass in India is held in churches that have been decked out with candles and poinsettia flowers.
Traditional Delicacies to Enjoy Christmas in India
In India, many traditions make this holiday particularly exciting, including decorating the Christmas tree, gift exchanging, and dining with loved ones. Additionally, much like any other occasion, Christmas in India would not be complete without delighting in some mouthwatering dishes.
During Christmas time, luxury international hotels in India provide lavish Christmas buffets with all the classics, particularly roast turkey, veggies, and decadent desserts. The majority of hotels in India will also host a special Christmas dinner. However, it might have a more Indian influence.
Along with British culture, traditional British sweets have also gained a place in India. However, while spending Christmas in India, you shouldn’t miss the delicious ethnic dishes such as Fried Rice, Lamb Stew, Rice and Coconut Hoppers, and Slow-Cooked Beef Fry.
Falooda, pastry, and a wide variety of steamed, boiled, or baked sweets are all examples of Indian fusion desserts. These desserts frequently contain coconut and spices like ginger and cinnamon.
Christmas in India involves an extensive intake of regional sweets. Favorite desserts include dodol-like toffee with coconut and cashews, which are little pastries loaded with dry fruit and coconut and fried. When people prepare sweets before Christmas and distribute them to their friends and neighbors, these other treats are frequently included in “consoada” – a traditional Portuguese Christmas meal.
India is well-known for its Koswad, a collection of holiday treats made by Konkanese residents during the Christmas season. Home-brewed wine traditions are followed in southern Indian areas like Kerala, usually using grapes but occasionally also using apples and rose apples.
5 Places To Celebrate Christmas in India
One of the best areas to celebrate a traditional Christmas in India is Goa, which has a sizable Catholic community. Its numerous stunning churches in the ancient Portuguese style are crowded with a festive atmosphere. Christmas carols are performed, and Midnight Mass is celebrated in many churches on Christmas Eve.
Houses, public areas, and markets are decorated for Christmas. The Mae de Deus church in Saligao, North Goa, is worth visiting just to admire its illuminated Gothic façade. An excellent location to celebrate Christmas is in Panjim’s Fontainhas Latin Quarter.
Boasting garlands of flowers along with different decorations illuminating Park Street, Kolkata is also a widely recognized destination for enjoying Christmas in India. People in Kolkata prepare delectable Christmas cakes, and their unique Christmas menu features a range of holiday delicacies.
Park Street is taken over by the Kolkata Christmas Festival, which features food and cultural vendors, choirs, and Christmas carols. On the stage of Allen Park on Park Street, musical ensembles and choirs perform.
On Christmas Eve, attend Midnight Mass in Kolkata’s spectacular Saint Paul’s Cathedral, which features Gothic Revival architecture. Visit Central Avenue, where the majority of the city’s Anglo-Indian population resides, for a unique glimpse into a local Christmas celebration in Kolkata.
Mumbai is another appreciated location to celebrate a traditional Christmas in India. Although there are many churches in Mumbai, the most prominent ones are those that offer Midnight Mass, particularly in the western area of Bandra. Hill Road in Bandra also has a festive appearance with many Christmas decorations, and bakeries are brimming with holiday treats.
Another site where Christmas is fervently observed in Mumbai is the charming, 200-year-old Matharpacady village, which is tucked away in the alleyways of Mazgaon. For the celebration, this East Indian Catholic village is exquisitely decked out and lit up at night.
Given that Delhi is one of the world’s most diversified and historically significant cities, it is unquestionably worthwhile to travel there to celebrate Christmas in India. The Sacred Heart Cathedral in Connaught Place is the site of Delhi’s most well-liked Midnight Mass.
The week before Christmas and during the holiday itself, Connaught Place is a hive of activity. Along with food stalls and other street merchants, there are lights and decorations for Christmas.
If you’re anticipating a beautiful Christmas in India, Shillong might be the place for you to spend a peaceful yet enjoyable holiday. Given the sizable Christian population in this region, the holiday is celebrated here with tremendous fervor and enthusiasm.
Traditional meals are made, and in the evenings, people enjoy singing carols and hymns. Glistening lights are strung up in churches, homes, and public spaces.
Christmas Traditions & Decorations In India
Christmas in India is a widely observed tradition with tremendous passion and delight, with people going to marketplaces and shopping centers, decorating their homes with trees, dressing as Santa Claus, and giving out a variety of gifts. Similar to other nations, Christmas is celebrated in India with special church prayer services before festive meals, get-togethers, gift exchanges, and other events.
A decorated banana or mango tree is used in place of typical Christmas trees. Mango leaves are occasionally used as home decor. Christians in southern India frequently place little clay oil lamps on their flat rooftops to demonstrate to their neighbors that Jesus is the light of the world. The majority of Christian households also have a clay-figure Christmas scene.
Christmas is a favorite holiday for Christians in India, particularly in Goa, as Catholicism predominates among Christians in this city. Just a week before Christmas, individuals enjoy performing carols for their neighbors. Traditional rich fruit Christmas cakes and Christmas trees are both immensely popular.
On Christmas Eve, Christians in India arrange massive paper lanterns in the shape of stars amongst their houses to ensure that as you go down the street, the stars will appear above you. The major Christmas supper, which is also Western, is enjoyed on Christmas Eve and is frequently either roast chicken or turkey. Christians go to church Christmas In India for a Midnight liturgy after dinner. The church bells ring to indicate the start of Christmas Day after the ceremony. Epiphany is also widely observed by Christians in Goa, who recall the Wise Men’s visit to Jesus.
Many Goan Christmas customs are still practiced by Christians in Mumbai, such as the star lanterns and manger scenes. The tribal Christians known as the Bhil folk in north-west India go out every night for a week leading up to Christmas to sing their unique carols. They travel to neighboring towns, where they sing and share the Christmas fable with the locals.
Traditional Catholics abstain from eating from December 1 until December 24, or until the midnight liturgy. A Christmas star will be hung in front of each home. Nearly all stationary stores will be stocked with fresh and varied Christmas stars at the beginning of the holiday season.
As you can see, Christmas is celebrated in India with great fervor and joy, as it is in many other nations. Even though the celebration’s subject is the same across the nation, local cultural influences generate variations in the observances.
Although the ways of celebrating differ from region to region, the fundamental purpose of the festival remains the same everywhere – to savor the moment and experience the joy of the festival. So, give yourself the chance to experience one of the world’s most fascinating cultures by taking part in Christmas in India.
Nato is a content writer and researcher with a background in psychology who’s eager to explore the wonders of nature. As a travel enthusiast and animal lover, she hopes to inspire others to discover and cherish the beauty and importance of the natural world.