Celebrating a festive Christmas, Goan style!

What would a Christmas in Goa be without someone hilariously dozing during the Midnight Mass, or the overindulgence in Christmas sweets?
Houses lit up for Christmas in Goa.
Houses lit up for Christmas in Goa. Gomantak Times

It’s 4 am and you would rather sleep, but instead, avó (grandmother in Portuguese) wakes you up for an unimaginable arm workout – stirring a huge pot of dodol!

Just as Santa delivers your presents like a thief in the middle of the night, Christmas creeps in on us in no time!

Houses lit up for Christmas in Goa.
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According to tradition, the season of Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas every year. It is the period of spiritual preparation for the birth of Christ.

During this time, Goans decorate their homes. Bright stars are hung outside shops and Catholic houses, the best tailors in town are glued to their sewing machines stitching Christmas dresses. Traditional sweets are prepared, and Christmas carols are played out loud - since it is officially the season to be jolly!

Houses lit up for Christmas in Goa.
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This means your father will set up the music system and dust off the classic Christmas CDs that he loves to play, and the 7-year-old bamboo frame of the star makes a once-in-a-year dusty appearance out of the storeroom closet to get a brand-new coat of butter paper!

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The doors of Goan households are welcomingly left open, with the main attraction being in the living room. No, not your beautiful Christmas tree, but the tray of homemade Christmas sweets that are kept on your teapoy: bebinca, dodol, kulkuls, pinagr and nevreos! – and, of course, a visit from that one neighbour that has taken it upon herself to judge which household has made the best nevreos this year!

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December 24 is Christmas Eve. Apart from making last minute preparations and deciding which party to attend, people put on their best attire and attend Christmas midnight Mass with their families.

The church bells are rung once Mass has ended. People wish each other, and the air is filled with the echo of people exclaiming, “Merry Christmas!”.

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The following morning, December 25, is Christmas day. In Catholic families, it is nothing short of a birthday of a loved one and is celebrated in a festive manner.

Gifts under the Christmas tree and a heavy lunch, inclusive of some pulao, roasted chicken and salad, is a must, among other dishes. Primarily a family feast, where there is bonding over food and laughter.

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One wholesome family lunch and siesta later, the evening itinerary usually includes attending a football match (usually between the married and unmarried men in the parish), a tiatr or a sports meet, which is organised either by the villagers or the village parish.

Houses lit up for Christmas in Goa.
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The season of Christmas goes on until January 6. During this period, friends and families gather all the children and youngsters, get into their vehicles and take them on a drive through the star-lit roads of South Goa.

The villages here, take pride in making the best life like cribs in Goa, which walk us through the journey of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem.

Houses lit up for Christmas in Goa.
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Traditions are a part of us no matter where we go. But the unexplained energy that gets us out of bed on December 1; the dust allergy that your father ignores while he dusts off those old CDs; trying hard not to laugh while your uncle dozes at midnight Mass religiously every year; the smile on your aunt’s face when you compliment the dress that she has stitched for herself; the enthusiasm shown by the married men while trying to score a goal despite having a beer belly; and the hug that your father gives your mother when he thinks that nobody is watching, are all examples of how Christmas magically brings out the best in us.

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