For us, Christmas is a lovely day when the family comes together. We cook turkey, salads, roast vegetables and seafood. In Perth, the weather is very hot and can reach up to 38-40 degrees celsius, so families often have pool parties and barbeques. The men play a game of Cricket on the streets after an elaborate Christmas Lunch. It’s fun, it’s indulgent and overall, it’s just a great day.
- Kendra O’Mullane, Chairman and Managing Director, Omullane Management Solutions Pvt Ltd, married to prominent businessman from the city Prasanth Chemuduri
We go to Kerala, to our family. There, like us, most Christians fast or give up non-veg for 25 days. On the 24th day, we all attend the midnight mass, after which we go to our brother’s house and break our fast with lots of non-veg delicacies. We cut cakes and burst firecrackers. Cousins from abroad try to be home for Christmas, and it’s a huge gathering.
- Leena Joseph, Cairperson, Manna Trus
Best time ever
Christmas to me means family, love, friendship and food. It is a time for reflection on the year gone by and remembering the loved ones who have passed on. It’s a time to be reminded of how grateful we are to have one another. It is really about passing on memories and making new ones with our children. As a child, midnight mass was the highlight for me because it meant staying up late and carol singing. We usually have a huge Christmas dinner every year with friends and family. Traditional delicacies such as Honey glazed ham, roast chicken, vindaloo, plum pudding, rose cookies and kulkuls are cooked.
- Karen Campos Bhatia, Clinical nutritionist and lifestyle consultant
I am a parishioner of St. John Maria Vianney’s Church in Secunderabad. Our two priests, Fr. David and Fr. John Paul are dedicated to spreading love throughout the year. Especially during the Christmas season, which lasts for four weeks, called Advent, lot of special activities are organised. Each Sunday is dedicated to a different group like kids, youth, couples and seniors. For kids, we had sports and games and for the youth, a festival of carols is organised in different languages. Special seminars are conducted for married couples. The midnight service is always grand. The melodious voices singing hymns in the still of the night always gives me goose bumps. People attend the service despite the cold with full enthusiasm and cheer. All the churches are decorated with fairy lights, stars and cribs. Our church has two cribs — one inside and the other outside. A cake is cut near the outside crib after the service and anyone can come have a piece while wishing each other.
- Lolly Dsilva, president of YMCA, Morning Group, Secunderabad
Christmas is celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Since I was a child, I have been going to St Joseph’s Cathedral for the mass. The well-lit church looks beautiful. The special mass is a great way to pass on Christ’s teaching to the people. Everyone is dressed up in their new attires — men in suits and ladies in dresses, beautiful gowns and saris. At lunch, family and friends get together and savour special sweet rose cookies, guava cheese, Christmas cakes, coconut sweets and homemade Hyderabadi biryani.
- Cleo Fernandes, professional photographer
Of music and wine
On Christmas Eve, my daughter and her kids come over to my house after dinner. We stay awake with music and chat till it is time to attend the midnight mass at St Alphonsus Church. The service is joyous and it is a delight to see the young ones in new clothes. Then, refreshments are served and we return home. The star, the Christmas tree and the crib are set up. We cut a cake and have homemade wine. Presents are placed under the tree and are opened in the morning amidst merriment. After breakfast, I get ready for the open house which has become a tradition among my friends. The table is full of goodies and guests catch up with each other. I then prepare a traditional family dinner. There’s Turkey, glazed and smoked ham, meat loaf and various accompaniments like salad and breads. The children invite their friends and cousins.
We remember to make the day special for the poor and for those who work with us irrespective of the faith to which they belong.
- Dr Daphne De Rebello, IAS and UNESCO (retd), president of the Alliance Francaise
Churches of the Twin Cities
- In Hyderabad, St Mary’s Basilica and St Joseph’s Cathedral are two big catholic churches. St John’s Church, Marredpally, All Saints Trimulgherry, and St George’s Church have midnight service with carols on 24th December.
- With high roofs, rafters, sloping roofs and stained glass windows, beautiful decor of older churches look majestic.
- Nothing beats the sounds of the grand pipe organ at St John’s Church. It’s also the biggest church in South India.
- St Joseph’s Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in Hyderabad. Situated atop a hill, it looks majestic.
- In fact, the royalty from the UK always make it a point to visit the All Saints Church in Trimulgherry when they visit India.