A mix of local flavours and tradition for Christmas Celebration

Each city or state has its own unique style of merrymaking.

Holidays get planned, parties are discussed and the coming new year fills hearts with hope.A mix of local flavors and tradition for Christmas Celebration. Unlike some occasions like Thanksgiving and Halloween, which India learned to celebrate more recently, the history of Christmas celebrations in India is perhaps as old as the arrival of Christianity in the country.

In India, Christians constitute only 2.3 percent of the population (as per Census 2011). But Christmas celebrations are not restricted to Christians.

Most children, irrespective of religion, hang up stockings on Christmas Eve, and at Midnight Mass, non-Christians often outnumber Christians at churches. Bada Din (or Big Day) as Christmas is locally known – is literally bad for us.

Markets are packed with Christmas trees and decorations, shop windows are decked up in Christmas colors, concerts are held, clubs organise parties, restaurants offer special menus and confectionary stores do brisk business.

Read on to get a feel of how Christmas is celebrated in different parts of India, or to know what you should do if you are there this festival season.

Christmases in Mumbai are warm – and not because it just doesn’t get cold in this part of the world. The city’s Christian community is spread across the island city and suburbs; some churches are almost 450 years old.

So, wherever you live, you don’t have to go far for shop windows dressed in festive red and green, the glint of tree ornaments in street markets, or the fragrance of plum cake.

Merrymaking starts early. By the first week of December, Bandra’s Hill Road, Malad’s Orlem and Borivali’s IC Colony neighborhoods are overrun with stalls selling festive knick-knacks – plastic trees, Santa hats and marzipan in all shapes and sizes.

On Christmas Eve, celebrations officially start after Midnight Mass. The term is a bit of a stretch – churches with large populations hold services at maidans, starting as early as 8 pm to stay within the 10 pm deadline for loudspeakers. Go early. The seats fill up.

On Christmas Day, churches are open through most of the morning for services. If you’re not invited to a family lunch or dinner, get yourself a dancing partner, iron your best formals, and buy tickets to a night-long Christmas dance.

All the clubs have them. For true Christmas spirit, though, tag along with a member of the Catholic Gymkhana on Marine Drive, Willingdon Catholic Gymkhana in Santacruz or the Bandra Gym. Their pre-Christmas events include bingo nights, festive bazaars, senior-citizen parties, Santa visits and plenty of dances. And there’s everything from ham sandwiches and pulao to cookies and cake at the buffet.

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