The festival of merry and joy is here at the end of the year as all of us look forward to. Yes, Christmas is here and while we know how we, our family and friends and even the people in the west mostly celebrate from films. But do you happen to know the different Christmas traditions followed across our diverse country? Maybe not, which is why we have listed the top unique and interesting Christmas Traditions Celebrated in India below:
Fasting till Christmas Eve
A common practice usually followed by elders in the Christian community in Kerala, they start from the 1st of December and break their fast routine on Christmas Eve as a practice of faith and sacrifice. In this period they spend their time reading the Bible, chanting with their Rosary and doing good deeds to those in need from donating to the needy and some even take up community betterment works. It brings out the fact that one of the highest forms of devotion is to not just pray and follow the scriptures but help those in need at their best capacity.
Carol Singing to Bring Joy
Something we all would have come across or had even been a part of is the melodious and cheer giving the practice of singing Christmas Carols, Hymns, and other Merry songs to homes in our neighborhoods. During the Christmas season, the Churches have mass, prayers and even activities with Christmas Carols singing by a choir group that makes one become merry indeed.
Mixing and Baking the Christmas Fruit Cake
If there is one common eatable that is synonymous with Christmas then it has to be the Fruit Cake also known as Plum cake or Rum n Raisins cake that is prepared before Christmas eve as a small custom or celebration known as Cake mixing. It is a time when Christian families in different places of India come together and even invite others to take part in where all the ingredients of the Plum or Fruit cake are mixed on a big container putting ingredients like raisins, walnut, tutty fruity, Rum, etc in the cake mix. It is also celebrated as a community event in a church where a huge number of people gather and participate in it. After the mixing, they are baked and distributed to all the attendees generously so that they can share with their family, friends, loved ones, neighbors, helpers and all to celebrate the festivity.
Hanging the Star Shaped Lights
According to the scriptures, it is said that three wise men from the king visited Mary and Jesus bringing a lot of gifts and presents by traveling far. When they were lost a star guided them to the manger where Jesus was born based on which in the olden days’ people used to make a star-shaped lantern and hang it outside their home. Keeping with the tradition, people in India buy a star-shaped light and hang it at the advent of the Christmas season till the New Year and some even make it on their own with creative and decorative designs.
Setting the Manger Scene
As a way to showcase the humble birth of Jesus who is said to have born in a simple animal stable because Mary had nowhere to go, a similar scene with small figurines is set up by people across India. Also known as the Nativity scene, a shed-like structure is made from craft materials like wood or cardboard with a manger. In it, the doll of Jesus is placed surrounding which that of Mary’s and other people are all placed with animals and hay. People go very creative in the setup by placing small lights, a background like a sky with the star and also the three wise men. One can find such a decorated scene across most churches and many Christian homes.
Placing Earthen Lamps across their Home
India is a land of multicultural diversity wherein people of different faiths are so thickly bonded with others. Such that some traditions which one may recognize with the celebration of a festival from a particular religion gets adopted by those belonging to another religion thereby bringing out its uniqueness. One such tradition is the placing of earthen lamps outside homes which may be synonymous with Diwali is actually followed by some Christians in south India. From the hallways, stairways to the boundary wall all are decorated by small and golden light illuminating earthen lamps that supports those who make them sell and be well supported by it.
Decorating the Christmas Tree
What is the most recognized Christmas traditional decoration? Hands down it is the Christmas tree that originating in countries with snowfall where the tree is decorated with a lot of ornaments and all the presents are kept below. The original Christmas tree is a tree that grows conically found natively in countries around the North pole. The invention of plastic, we all can get artificial Christmas trees everywhere to celebrate. But a few places in India is famous to have a Christmas tree that is actually a Plantain or Mango tree that is widely grown and bonded with bringing in different local tradition.
Visit by Santa Claus
The favorite thing about Christmas for kids is receiving presents and getting to see their favorite person, Santa Claus. Instantly identifiable by the Red Cap and Dress, Whitebeard, juggling tummy and most importantly the bag of presents. As Christianity has been in India for a few hundred years Santa Claus is known by different names across India some of which are Christmas Thatha, Christmas Baba or even Christmas Chacha. Apart from giving presents a person in costume also dances, plays and even performs some skits to teach children about how to be good.
Attending Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve
The most important tradition that is a must for Christians on Christmas Eve is to attend the midnight mass in the Church where the Bible is read by the priest, songs are sung by the choir and wishes are exchanged among each other for a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. With Churches all across India, the mass is performed in different languages to accommodate all. The poor and differently-abled are gifted with clothes, sweets, and presents. Everyone prays about being thankful for everything.
Shopping and Giving Presents
Come to the start of December and everywhere you look around shops are all filled with sale banners offering discounts, offers and even presents for shopping. It is the time when people do their Christmas shopping for themselves, their family and all those who have been a part of their lives. From toys and games for kids, clothes and mobiles for themselves to electronics and appliances for the whole family the list goes on. Exchanging gifts in India is a common custom and people play Secret Santa at schools, colleges, offices and more.
Relish the Christmas Feast
Any festival is incomplete with a delicious meal and Christmas is no different. After attending the mass, exchanging gifts and all the merry families sit together to break bread being thankful for it all. Various delicacies that are locally special are prepared which are different and popular in different places across India.
Wherever you’re from celebrate this Christmas with all and possibly create a happy tradition of your own wishing you a Merry Christmas!