As we already have insights from Brazil and South Korea about Christmas in their countries (if you haven’t seen them yet, make sure to check them out too!), I would love to give my perspective on how the festival is celebrated in India.
To be honest, I don't celebrate Christmas. Given that it is a Christian holiday, usually only the Christian community have actual celebrations for Christmas. However, we did have our own fun!
For example, in our housing society, we used to have a Santa Claus who used to go to the Christian households a few days before Christmas. The kids(me included of course!) used to mob him for chocolates. It was uncanny seeing children of all religions just having fun together and getting as many chocolates as they could! You could say it was a weird mix of Halloween and Christmas for me. Our ,,Santa Claus” actually used to go to a lot of housing societies in a locality and was paid by the mayor for it.. So each locality had their own ,,Santa Claus” and all of them had huge bags of chocolates, waiting to be devoured by an entire army of children.
Of course, people who do celebrate Christmas had their own ways and delicacies that they made for the festival. My mom has some friends who celebrate Christmas and I used to go to their houses on Christmas (or just before it) to eat something amazing because they used to bake a lot of cakes! I have had the best cakes in my life during Christmas (and I still miss them).
Maybe I can also add some experiences from my friends. Normally, only a small number of people have Christmas trees . It depended a lot on where you stayed and how much you wanted to celebrate. For example, my friends who used to live in apartments in big cities, did not set up Christmas trees owing to a lack of space and/or lack of the actual tree. I mean, how do you have a real Christmas tree if it doesn’t grow in your state!? Most places in India don’t have the necessary climatic conditions to grow a pine tree. So a lot of them bought artificial Christmas trees and decorated them beautifully. Some families did get hold of pine trees through various means!
Christmas in India is celebrated on 25th December. But for some parts of Christianity in India, it starts sooner. For example, some families start a special ,,fast” in which they do not eat meat from 1st of December right up till Christmas day. They attend the holy mass at their church from 8pm on 24th which ends at midnight and they come home to the pre-prepared delicious food that awaits them!
So as you see, even in a country like India where Christianity is not a majority religion, there are some indigenious customs and traditions which are fun!
Till next time,
Ajay Raghunath is an Angewandte Informatik Masters Student (he recently learned the pronunciation) from India. He has been an ESN member ever since and keeps saying he is an Arsenal fan like it is a badge of honour. He loves to eat even though it doesn't seem like he does. He is a traveller who likes to experience new adventures.