The season to be jolly is here, a time for festive roast dinners, warm family gatherings and brightly-wrapped gifts placed under decorated Christmas trees. And the less fortunate are not forgotten either, in this season of love.
Whether it is serving roast chicken with all the trimmings, choristers singing, or attending midnight mass, here are what some families are up to this year to celebrate Christmas.
A time for family, food, and fun
For newly-married Erica Paul, Christmas couldn’t be more exciting this year. “I got married about seven months ago and I’m very excited about spending our first Christmas together as husband and wife,” she says.
Erica, who works as a team leader at Dupont, said the festivities have already started, with shopping in progress and decorations going up. “We bought a Christmas tree and decorated it with lights and accessories. We have put up a star at our door. It can be seen from a distance, and it’s beautiful!” Erica and her family are all set with clothes for the big day. After attending church, they will spend time with family and friends and bond over loads of food. “We have made a lot of cookies and snacks and bought wine, as we are expecting all our friends and relatives to celebrate with us. We will also be baking the most important plum and rum cakes for Christmas,” she says.
A time for traditions
For Lolly D’Silva, Christmas festivities began with the lighting of the traditional Yule log in the garden and singing carols at home. The ritual was started by her late mother, and Lolly takes pride in continuing it years after her death.
On the Christmas Eve, friends and family gather around the crackling fire and sing carols in the evening. This is followed by a big dinner, before the group heads to Secunderabad Club for the popular Christmas Eve Dance.
The celebrations then shift to St. Mary’s Basilica for the midnight mass marking Jesus Christ’s birth. After that, they head home to share wine and homemade cake with friends. “I make a delicious rum cake and serve up a nice roast chicken dinner at home with all the trimmings for all to enjoy,” says Lolly.
A time for the less fortunate
David Subramaniam, who founded Cherish Foundation, bears the less fortunate in mind on Christmas. After attending church on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and having a “simple but elegant family dinner and exchanging very modest gifts,” the focus shifts to the needy. “Christmas is all about celebrating the birthday of our Lord and Saviour. Whether you are celebrating a secular or religious Christmas, it is a day for fun, love and happiness. Decorate your home, enjoy the traditions with your family and take time to give back to others,” said David, who has been providing education and a home to 52 destitute, orphaned and abandoned children for 16 years. At his home, the festivities start on Thanksgiving Day. Christmas decorations and the tree are put up the next day, and will stay till January 2. “One of my favourite Christmas memories is of my friends, relatives and neighbours gathering around and breaking into an impromptu sing-along of old Christmas songs,” says David.
A time for family
Professional photographer Cleo Fernandes spends the average day hobnobbing with celebrities. But his Christmas preparations start 10 days in advance, with shopping for all the people he loves. The day begins with an early morning mass followed by a visit to his mother’s home. He takes her out for a meal if she is up for it. “It is the one time of the year that the church is completely full. We tend to bump into friends we haven’t seen in years and it is such a joy. There is always a beautiful prayer at church and the mass feels like a birthday celebration and that is really special to us. This is time spent with family and parents, wrapped in an overall feeling of joy.” The weather adds just the right touch to the festive feeling. “Churches are decorated with colourful lights everywhere. Christmas is not about Christians, we are connected with all religions and they join us in our festivities, just as we join in theirs. It is beautiful and I love this country because of that,” says Cleo.
A time for giving
For Prameela G., Christmas is a time of giving and bringing joy to others. Therefore, along with PBEL City Christian Fellowship, Prameela has been organising a Christmas event for residents in her society since 2014.
The fun-filled evening, attended by hundreds of people, had carol singing, choreographed dances and a Christmas message by evangelist Edward William Kuntam. It also had music from Youth for Christ, a Santa Claus, cakes, snacks and lots of chocolates. This year, Christmas Day will be spent at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Gandhinagar and in distributing money, food and clothes to the needy. It will be followed by a lunch at home.