Christmas in Goa

 

Christmas in Goa, photograph by innacoz

Christmas in Goa, photograph by innacoz

Goa and most parts of India are known for the celebration of festivals, especially due to the existence of so many different religions, each with their own culture and tradition. Goa has the largest Catholic population as compared to any other state in India and this makes for a very vibrant, energetic and exciting Christmas in Goa.

Christmas Eve and the preparation for Christmas in Goa

By the beginning of December, everyone’s already making plans for Christmas. Everyone’s busy shopping, hanging buntings and decorations all over the house and the decorating of the tree, like everywhere else in the world, is an event that brings the whole family together. And Christmas Eve always ends with a nice traditional dinner with family after which people go to church for a midnight service, dressed in their best, to welcome the birth of Christ.

Goan Christmas Sweets

Now, the women of the house usually start getting the Christmas sweets ready in time to send some in decorative boxes or baskets to neighbours, family and friends. There are various sweets that are exclusive to Goa, the most popular being ‘neureos’, made of stuffed dry fruits and coconut. Some other sweets are dodol, bebinca and coconut nest. In the past, the joy was in preparing the sweets yourself but now that trend is slowly dying out with the modernization of everything and the lack of time, so people just buy the sweets to distribute instead.

The Crib

A very important part of Christmas decor in Goa is the Crib. Almost every Catholic household will have one. According to Christianity, Jesus was born in a manger, so a crib is made every year in Catholic households to depict the scene of the night of Christ’s birth. This nativity scene is created on a miniature scale usually to be placed inside homes and sometimes on a larger scale to be placed outdoors. People even grow millet grass on the floor of the crib, both big and small, to make it seem like grass. The various figurines for the crib are made of clay, paper and various other materials based on how creative one can get.

Christmas Ballrooms

Dancing and parties form an inevitable part of Christmas in Goa. There are countless Xmas ballrooms happening throughout the state. Some noteworthy spots to get your groove on and boogie are the Emerald Lawns and Alva Mar in Parra, Blueberry hills in Verna and the Woodburne Hall in Nuvem. These parties usually take place either on 24th or 25th evenings and go on until midnight. So get ready to dance under the stars at these parties.

Christmas Day

Christmas Day is relatively more quiet as people decide to spend the day in with family and friends. Towards the evening, people set out to wish neighbours and friends also celebrating the festival, or not. A commendable trend surrounding Christmas in Goa is that it is not only celebrated by Christians. The festival time in Goa is so different from the rest that people from all walks of life come to celebrate this festival here in Goa, regardless of religious beliefs.

Christmas Season and its Unending Parties

The biggest factor contributing to the popularity and the fervour that surrounds this holiday is, of course, the parties and nightlife of Goa. Curfews aren’t as strictly enforced, parties happening everywhere possible, maddening crowds and hordes of tourists from all over the world are all over Goa. Some popular party hotspots are in North Goa. Anjuna, Vagator, Calangute and Baga are the places to hit if you are looking to party till the wee hours of the morning. Come prepared to travel on foot, though, because it is impossible to move around in anything with wheels during this time of year.

End of Festivities

Once Christmas is over there is still a lot that needs to be done in preparation for the New Year, and being just a week away there is no time to rest till the next year has rolled in. During the week leading up to New Year’s Eve, a certain Goan tradition is seen happening around Goa. People are seen carrying an effigy of an old man from house to house in a bid to collect money. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, this effigy is burned as a symbol of putting the past behind you and moving forward and welcoming the New Year. This tradition is mostly carried out by children.

The official end to the season is on January 6th, the Feast of the Magi. There is a symbolic procession of the Three Kings at Cansaulim near Mormugao, the most famous place in Goa to be a part of this procession. Three children between the ages of 8 to 10 years are chosen to represent the Three Kings, one each from the two surrounding villages, Quelim and Arossim and one from Cansaulim. The days leading up to this Feast are full of excitement as being chosen to be one of the Kings is an honor only allowed to boys from these three villages. Each ‘King’ has to go up the Remedios Hill, atop which is the Three Kings’ Chapel, to present their ‘Gift’ to the newborn Christ. Accompanied by a carnival and very colorful celebrations, this feast is one of the most popular here.

All in all, there is no place else in the world where the Christmas season is as flamboyant and lively as what it is in Goa.