Christmas Traditions in India

Christmas Day is declared a National Holiday though Christmas is not celebrated all over the country. It is celebrated by all the Christian denominations and many Hindus also celebrate Christmas. The Hindu and Muslim shopkeepers decorate the shops and even may have a person dressed up just like Christmas Father to attract the little children.

The church buildings are decorated with colorful papers, flowers, and toys. Christmas trees and manger scenes are erected inside the church. The decoration of the church is normally the contribution of the youth of the congregation.

Children play a large part in the celebration of the Christmas Eve worship service. They prepare for their parts in the celebration by practicing for the service 20-30 days before Christmas. The Christmas story is presented by the children in a question and answer format. All of the questions and answers are memorized by the children ahead of time. In addition to the Christmas narrative, special Christmas songs and skits are presented as well.

Many days before Christmas Eve, the young and the old go around singing Christmas carols visiting all of the families of the congregation. Many Christian families of other denominations and a number of Hindu families happily welcome the carolers into their homes.

For the Christmas morning service, which begins around 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, the church members show up in the new clothes they have received for the occasion. Following the service is a fireworks display put on by the church. Children set off firecrackers given to them by their parents. In some small villages the families together purchase a sheep, goat, or a pig to butcher immediately following the morning service in order to share the meat. While this practice is still common among the smaller villages, it is slowly disappearing.