Festivals of India, December 25th, 2023
illustration by Manish

In India, Christmas is celebrated by a diverse population, including a significant Christian minority as well as people from other religious backgrounds. The way Christmas is celebrated in India reflects this diversity and often incorporates local customs and traditions. Here are some common ways in which Christmas is celebrated in India:

1. Religious Observances: Christians in India attend special church services, including Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. The services often include prayers, carol singing, and the retelling of the story of the birth of Jesus.

2. Decorations: Many Indian homes, shops, and public spaces are adorned with Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, lights, and ornaments. In some regions, banana or mango trees may be decorated instead of traditional pine trees.

3. Gift-Giving: The exchange of gifts is a common practice, reflecting the global Christmas tradition. Families and friends give and receive presents as a symbol of love and goodwill.

4. Feasting: Christmas is a time for special meals and feasts. In India, the cuisine may include a mix of traditional Indian dishes and Western Christmas specialties. Popular items include plum cakes, Christmas pudding, and various savory dishes.

5. Santa Claus: The figure of Santa Claus is also a part of the celebrations in India. In some places, especially in urban areas and shopping malls, people dress up as Santa Claus and distribute gifts to children. Schools and communities may organize events with Santa Claus appearances.

6. Caroling: Caroling is not as widespread as in Western countries, but in some Indian communities, especially in urban areas and Christian-majority regions, people go caroling in their neighborhoods or participate in carol singing events.

7. Community Events: Many cities and towns organize Christmas parades, festivals, and markets. These events often feature cultural programs, music, dance, and traditional Christmas foods. Christmas bazaars and markets are common, providing a festive atmosphere for shopping.

8. Cultural Blending: In India, Christmas celebrations often incorporate elements of local culture and traditions. For example, in Goa, a state with a significant Christian population, Christmas is celebrated with a unique blend of Indian and Portuguese influences.

It’s important to recognize that the way Christmas is celebrated can vary widely across different states and regions in India due to the diverse cultural and religious landscape of the country. In some regions, the holiday may be more low-key, while in others, it is marked by vibrant and elaborate festivities.

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