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♦ Christmas Time in Goa ♦
Goa is among those eminent destinations that are found in full bloom during Christmas. Goa stands as the most accurate place for witnessing the vibrant Christmas celebrations. Being a part of Goa during this time of the year will surely make your Christmas the most cherished one of your life.
Christmas in Goa is one of the most important festivals that are celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm. Like elsewhere in the world, December 25 is celebrated in Goa too as the nativity of Jesus Christ with traditional joy and gaiety. People from all the communities in Goa join hands to celebrate the festival.
Christmas celebrations in Goa include exchanging gifts and offering prayers. The nativity scene is evoked by creating clay statues and artefacts made up of millet grass, box board and hay. Statues form an important part of the Christmas festival and it is reminiscent of the birth of Jesus in the stable of Bethlehem.
A village group along with many children with one among them dressed as Santa go Christmas serenading with a box to raise funds. These funds are normally contributed towards a meal for the poor, orphans or even a small party for the people of the ward. Live cribs with carol singing make rounds in villages. People from all religious communities in Goa take part in the festivities of Christmas. Programs are held at the different parishes in Goa during the Christmas week. The village youth make huge cribs on the community ground or even in fields.
There are a host of local sweets of which the most popular are Neureos, (stuffed dry fruit and coconut rounds), Dodol (coconut and cashew squares) Aranhas (coconut nest which is strips of tender coconut dipped in sugar and put like a birds nest on to decorative butter paper) Doce, Bolina and Bebinca. These sweets are traditionally made at home and sent in little decorative baskets to relatives and friends during the Christmas week. Click Here To know how to prepare few of the Christmas Sweets Recipes.
Dancing and parties form an inevitable part of Christmas in Goa. During the festival, the people dress themselves in the finest of their clothes. People decorate their houses with buntings, streamers, bobbles, tinsel, colourful papers, poinsettias, etc. The Christmas trees are decorated with beautiful items such as candies, sparkling stars, cotton flakes, socks, gifts and a number of other decorative items. Even the churches are decorated for the occasion. The market places are all embellished with tinsel and buntings and people masquerading as Santa stalk customers, particularly children with gifts. Decorated and glittering Christmas trees are all over the place.
The celebrations of Christmas at Goa begin in the evening of 24th December. The festivities begin with decorating the Christmas tree, making of the crib in each house and also a common ward/village crib. Decorating the Christmas tree form an integral part of the Christmas celebrations in Goa, which begins on the day before the Christmas. The Christmas trees are decorated with many decorative items including socks, candies, stars, bells, gifts, etc. Dancing, pealing of church bells and fireworks form an intrinsic part of the Christmas Day celebrations in Goa.
Carols are sung and all the churches in Goa organize the midnight Mass. The mid night Christmas mass, on Christmas Eve, draws huge crowds. The Midnight Mass commemorates the birth of Jesus at midnight. Therefore, the people of Goa sing Christmas carols and hymns during the midnight. The Midnight Mass in Goa is characterized by the sounding of bells and lighting candles. The service on Christmas Day is attended by Christians dressed in new clothes. After the mass there are cultural events and social gatherings with each person wishing every person they meet a “Merry Christmas”. Moreover, family reunions and partying also include the celebrations of Christmas.
The Crib should be a cherished part of the Christmas celebration in every family. It is not only completely religious in significance but also presents to the children in a beautiful way the central event which we commemorate on this great feast. Thus it assumes the character of a religious shrine in the houses of the faithful during Christmas season. Dignified decoration might enhance its attraction and solemnity.
Christmas day is by comparison very silent. It is a day spent with family together in the comfort of one’s home. There are gifts for all the members of the family and even the visiting relatives get gifts kept under the Christmas tree. It is a time to reinforce bonds that may have gone astray or been neglected during the course of the year
It is remarkable that the celebration of Christmas in Goa is not restricted only to the Christians. But People belonging to various communities participate in the festival with immense enthusiasm. In fact, everything in the city/village seems to come alive with the festivities. The beaches in Goa form the centre of the festivities during this time. Loud music and dance, clubbed with sumptuous dishes mark the festivities of Christmas in Goa.
Festivities and visiting people go on even after Christmas, sometimes 10 days beyond Christmas. On New Year’s night, children sit with an effigy of an old man, much like a scarecrow on the road, and collect funds from passers-by.
They burn him at midnight, which is symbolic of putting the past behind and ushering in the New Year or the future.
The Christmas season ends officially on January 6, which is the Feast of the Magi or the three kings who came to pay obeisance to the infant Jesus. There is a Church service and a symbolic procession of the three kings at three places in Goa namely, Chandor, Reis Magos and Cuelim-Cansaulim.