In India compared to many other festivals, Christmas is considerably a very minor festival. Because when you consider the Christian population, which is just 2.3% of the Indian population and the remaining belong to other religions. But having said that the population of India is over 1 Billion which means there are over 28 million Christians in India!
One of India’s largest Christian Communities in a metro city is Mumbai, predominately Roman Catholics. And these Christian people in Mumbai came mostly from Goa where 26% of population are Christians. The states of North East of India like Manipur (42%), Meghalaya (75%), Nagaland (88%) and Mizoram (87%) have high populations of Christians.
In India, Christmas is usually celebrated by the attending Midnight Mass. Especially for Catholics it is one of the important ceremonies on Christmas day. Where all the family members, relatives, friends gather to attend the mass which is followed by receive blessing from elders, exchanging gifts and eating cakes (mostly Plum cakes).
On Christmas Eve, mostly all Churches are well decorated with Christmas Trees, Christmas Lights, Big Christmas Wreaths, fresh flowers, scented candles and Christmas decorations like balls, bells, bead chains, Santa dolls, etc. Usually a big Nativity set (Crib set) consist of Baby Jesus, Mother Mary, Joseph, Angel, three kings with gifts, a shepherd man along with few animal statues placed inside/outside the church which draw more attraction from the crowd. Also, not to forget you can note many youngsters dressed in Santa Claus costume, giving away Christmas Gifts, Candies and hailing Merry Christmas.
As India is a not a big producer of traditional natural Christmas trees. People usually opt for artificial Christmas trees for decorating their Churches, homes, Offices, Malls, etc., When it comes to artificial Christmas tree, people have many options to choose from like Classic Evergreen Christmas tree, Fir Christmas tree, Pine Christmas Tree, Spruce Christmas Tree, Cypress Christmas Tree, Cedar Christmas Tree, Cashmere Christmas Tree, Green Moss Christmas tree, Flocked Christmas Tree, Pre-Lit Christmas Tree and many more options available in the market these days. Also, you can shop online from website like Trinity Christmas which delivers across India.
When it comes to celebrating Christmas, people in Goa are well known for their Christmas celebrations. Goa follow western culture than the traditional Indian culture as Goa has historical association with Portuguese. People in Goa, go to carol singing around their neighbourhood from first week of December to announce that Christmas is coming. Decorating Christmas Trees and hanging star lantern is very popular here, along with traditional made rich fruit plum Cake. Many locally made sweets are used during the festival like Neureos (pies which are stuffed with dry fruits and coconut) and dodol (a toffee mixed with coconut and cashew. The main Christmas meal is roast turkey or chicken.
In north western part of India, Christians of the Bhil folk tribe go out in the night to sing carols for the entire night for a week before Christmas. They usually go to surrounding villages to sing carols and tell Christmas stories.
In Kerala, Christmas is an important festival as 22% of the population is Christians. Here the Traditional Catholics do fast from 1st of Dec to 24th of December, until the midnight service. In Kerala, the main decoration is hanging Christmas Star outside the house. Every house/office in Kerala will be decorated with a paper/plastic Christmas star outside from the 1st day of December till the month end. Also, people take time to decorate cribs (Nativity Sets) in their homes, restaurants and Churches.
In North Eastern part of India, 80% of the population is Christians so it is widely celebrated festival here. The entire alpine regions of North East India are decorated and decked like a bride. The tribes of these areas rejoice the Christmas eve with enthusiasm and passion. In addition to their ethnicity and traditions the way they celebrate Christmas is one of the best in India. Their Christmas celebration also included ‘Night Bazars’ where you can visit different types of food stalls, Decorations stalls in one corner and concerts on the other end.
In most of the cities in India like Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi, Christians usually follow western traditions which like decorating Christmas Trees, star lanterns, Nativity sets (manger sets), attending Midnight mass and having roasted turkey (in some places biryani). Also, Santa Claus is quite famous in the cities. He is usually called in local languages as ‘Christmas Baba’ in Hindi, ‘Baba Christmas’ in Urdu (Father Christmas), ‘Christmas Thaathaa’ in Tamil and Telugu and ‘Natal Bua’ in Marathi and ‘Christmas Papa’ in Kerala.
Let’s see how people usually exchange Christmas wishes “Merry/Happy Christmas” in their Local language below:
|Gujarati||Anandi Natal or Khushi Natal|
|Konkani||Khushal Borit Natala|
|Kannada||Kris mas habbada shubhaashayagalu|
|Shindi||Christmas jun wadhayun|