Thursday, December 15, 2016

Strange Christmas Traditions in India

Strange Christmas Traditions in India

(Made by my boi Emily Diamond. It's a banana Christmas tree lol.)

Even with 25 million people, only 2.3% of the population in India are Christians. With such a small amount of Christmas celebrating Christians, it calls for some weird Christmas traditions. One of India’s traditions is that instead of having a traditional evergreen Christmas tree, they have banana trees or mango trees. Brightly lit banana or mango trees can be seen in many houses topped with ornaments and Christmas decor. Sometimes mango leaves are even used as a decoration in homes.

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(Young Indian children attend a Christmas celebration in their classes dressed up as Santa Claus)

The Christmas festivities don’t stop there in India. Christians in Mumbai and Goa like to make star lanterns. Star lanterns are a symbol of the North Star, which was used to guide the wise men to baby Jesus. Star lanterns and their corresponding nativity scenes are sure to be extravagant since people like to make sure that their manger scene is the best. Churches also decorate with Poinsettia flowers and candles for the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass service. To finish their nativity scenes, families make clay figures to go under their star lantern. Star lanterns could be hung outside between houses so that they float above you while you walk through the streets. Another Christmas decoration that Christians and churches put out is a small oil burning clay lamp that they put on the roofs of their homes. They do this to show their friends and neighbors that Jesus is the light of the word.

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(Star lanterns used as Christmas decorations)

For us here in the states, Santa visits in a sleigh led by reindeer. In India, Santa visits by a horse-drawn or camel-drawn cart. India’s Santa goes by many names such as Baba Christmas, Christmas Thaathaa, Christmas Thatha, Natal Bua, Christmas Elder Man, and Christmas Papa. In India, they also go Christmas caroling, just like us. Around a week before Christmas, Christians start caroling and go neighbor to neighbor singing Christmas songs.

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(Christmas camels in India)

Like our Christmas foods, Christians in India love sweets and cakes called Christmas Cakes(which are pretty much fruit cakes). One favorite Indian Christma treat is called a neureos, which is a small pastry that is stuffed with coconut and then fried. Another is dodol which is toffee with coconut and a cashew. Consuda is when people make sweets and give them as Christmas presents to their friends and neighbors.

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(An Indian Christmas cake, which is like a fruitcake)

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( A bowl of neureos, which is a traditional Christmas sweet in India)

On Christmas Eve, the main Christmas meal is eaten, which includes either roast turkey or chicken. After the meal, Christians go to church for the Midnight mass service. After the service is finished, the church bells are rung to show that Christmas day is finally here. At the Midnight mass service, many Christians celebrate Epiphany and the Wise Men’s visit to meet Jesus. Traditional Catholics fast from the 1st of December to the 24th, or until the Midnight service.

(An elephant painted up for a Christmas parade)

-Brooke Peyton

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