Christmas Quick Facts - IN

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2023 Date25 December 2023
2024 Date25 December 2024


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Christmas in India celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, bridging divisions and fostering peace and goodwill among all. Packed with vibrant decorations, choral music, and holiday feasts, Christmas serves as a festival of love, harmony, and brotherhood. Despite India predominately being a Hindu country, Christmas, with its universal messages of hope and unity, extends far beyond religious boundaries, engaging people of all faiths and backgrounds.

The introduction of Christmas in India dates back to the late 15th century, coinciding with the arrival of European missionaries. Over time, the festival intertwined with local customs, resulting in a unique Indian touch to the global celebration. Factors such as church services, nativity plays, and festive processions are crucial to Indian Christmas celebrations, as is the tradition of exchanging gifts. Among indigenous tribes in states like Mizoram and Nagaland, Christmas holds an especially important place, marked by community feasts, cultural performances, and week-long festivities.

Christmas in India is observed with diverse customs given its multicultural milieu. Unlike Western countries where the event is marked by winter, Christmas in India falls during mild weather conditions, with Churches decorated with poinsettia flowers and candles. In southern states, Christians often place clay oil-burning lamps on roofs to symbolize Jesus as the 'Light of the World.' In Goa, known for its historic Christian population, Midnight Mass or 'Miss De Gallo' is a religious highlight, gathering families for a communal celebration of the holiday. Similarly, in eastern states, communities hold street processions featuring traditional dances and songs. Christmas in this colourful nation uniquely merges global traditions with local customs, ensuring a celebration elsewhere unmatched in its beauty and diversity.

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Christmas facts

  • During the 4th Century A.D., Bishop Nicolas of Smyrna was known to be very generous to the poor, especially to children. He was later given the title of Saint Nicholas and is patron saint of children.
  • Constantine the Great named the holiday and set the date for Jesus' birth as being December 25th. This happened in 325 A.D.
  • The Christmas tree is a custom that is believed to have begun in Germany in the 18th century. Candles and decorations that are lit represented the light of Christ in the world.
  • In India, Christmas decorations often incorporate local customs and materials. Instead of a traditional pine tree, banana or mango trees are used and decorated with oil lamps and flowers. Homes are lit with oil lamps and colorful paper lanterns, and doorways are adorned with mango leaves and marigolds.
  • Like in many other countries, attending a midnight mass at the local church is an important part of Christmas celebrations in India. Following the mass, families return home to share a traditional meal, which may include curry dishes, biryani, and a special cake made with plum and rum called 'kulkul.'

Top things to do in India for Christmas

  • Attend a Christmas Eve service at a local church. Many churches offer midnight mass. Alternately, watch the Pope's annual Christmas eve service broadcast live from the Vatican.
  • Many churches hold pageants for children that involve playing the parts of the nativity scene. Go to one of these events or put up a nativity scene in your home.
  • Prepare a Christmas feast at home. Cook traditional Indian Christmas treats like plum cake, marzipan fruits, and sweet rice pudding (kheer). Enjoy the meal with your family and loved ones.
  • Attend a Christmas Mass or church service at your local church.

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