Christmas is a special and magical time of the year for many. The festivities, the food, the music and dance, all make it a wonderful time of the year, especially in Goa when the entire state seems to come alive. NT KURIOCITY interacted with some youngsters to find out what makes it such a wonderful season for them
Maria Fernandes | NT Kuriocity
There are no barriers when it comes to celebrating Christmas; in fact it is one of the festivals that spills over into the streets for all to participate. Goa dons the festive colours of celebration right from the beginning of December and the festive fervour engulfs everyone.
“We celebrate Christmas in Goa every year with our family. For me there is no better place to be. Dubai is good with all the decorations and festivities but the actual fun is here! Besides my grandparents, my uncles, aunts and cousins all look forward to our arrival and I eagerly wait for this trip. This year we also have a cousin getting married just after Christmas, so the excitement is even more,” says 16-year-old Raisa D’Cruz. “Most of my cousins from Australia, Qatar and UK come down for Christmas and for me that makes it very special,” says Deandra Pinto and adds, “The family parties and exchanging gifts are also something that I look forward to.”
“In our family exchanging gifts for Christmas is a tradition and all the children in the family get something from the adults. It is really exciting to open my gifts on Christmas day even though I often know what I am getting,” says 14-year old Nadine Coelho. “Shopping for gifts during this season really gets me in the Christmas mood. In my group of friends we have Secret Santa and we pick names as to whom we will be giving a gift to and then on the day we have our party we exchange gifts. The secrecy adds to the excitement,” says Linda Gomes. Sheldon Braganza a bank employee, reminisces, “I remember in school we use to follow the tradition of exchanging gifts and it was fun! More often than not I use to get gifts which I was not very happy about. Now when I think about it, I miss it so much and feel extremely nostalgic.”
Food has always had a place of prominence in Goan culture and what better time to put out the goodies than Christmas! “My grandma is an awesome cook and for Christmas the table is laden with goodies that are absolutely lip-smacking. We cousins and the rest of the family meet at my ancestral home in Carmona and it is not just the food but the ambiance that adds to the special feeling. Sorpotel, sannas, pulao, roast pork, beef roast and beef roulade are some of the dishes that our table is laden with. And the dessert every year is my grandma’s trademark, caramel custard which is to die for, besides bebinca and trifle pudding,” says Earl Gracias. It is not just feasting on the goodies but also preparing them, that puts many in the festive mood. Not just Catholic families but the non-Catholics too who lend a helping hand in the sweet-making find the activity a bonding ritual. Bianca Saldanha says, “When we are making kulkuls or neuris, the entire family along with some cousins and neighbours get involved. The time is so special with everyone getting together, joking and laughing and of course eating.” Freeda Pais a school teacher agrees wholeheartedly and says, “I get my children and even husband involved in making some of the sweets, even though they make a fuss. Besides making sweets, we are also creating memories which I am sure we will all cherish.”
Standing resplendent with beautiful ornaments and twinkling lights, the Christmas tree is an integral part of Christmas celebrations. The buntings, twinkling lights, Santas, baubles, tinsel and glitter have a gooey effect on everyone. Even the gloomiest room with some fairy lights and a touch of tinsel gets magically transformed into a festive haven and is one of the many things that make Christmas special. “I love the feeling when the lights on the tree and around my home come on. It is so Christmassy! Putting up the decorations with my brothers and sister is a family tradition while my mum prepares the Christmas goodies. Of course we all help her but the decorations start first,” says Sybil Lobo with a grin. On similar lines, Ralph Pinheiro finds the crib-making very spiritual. “We have space outside our house and we make our crib at least two weeks in advance with all of us getting involved. There is something about it along with the carols that make me feel the magic of Christmas come alive.”
Christmas carols symbolise everything that Christmas stands for and as carollers move from home to home or building to building or are simply stationery, hearing them sing ‘Silent Night’ the joyful spirit seeps in. “For me Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the carol-singing that I take part in as part of the church youth group. It is so much fun and I can’t help but feel joyful,” says Marina D’Mello.
The highlight of the day and the season for most youngsters is the party or dance. The season brings out the party spirit in many and even those who don’t normally party, are in the mood to socialise or shake a leg. Either with friends or family the Christmas dance heightens the festive spirit. “I don’t normally go partying or clubbing but Christmas is different,” says Sherwin Braganza. Peter Fernandes too believes that Christmas is time for family and adds, “All the year, I party with my friends but for Christmas, our entire family goes for a dance. What I like most about the evening is dancing with my aunts and grandma and cousins. Christmas for me is a time like no other.”
Christmas is definitely a magical time; a time for family, friends, giving, sharing, joy and laughter. No matter what you find special about it, there is always something for everyone!