Goa has made itself known as India’s biggest party destination. Not only is it spectacular on account of its long and beautiful coastline dotted with lovely palm trees and golden shores, it is also a hub of exciting and thrilling activities for all kinds of travelers. Most people visit Goa party their night away at one of the several amazing nightclubs and pubs that Goa is abundant in. Many also visit the for the stunning sunsets and long walks on the beaches as the cool breeze hits their face and brushes past their hair. Goa has a strange mix of serenity and crazy, heart-pumping zest. The best time to witness Goa at its very best is during Christmas. (ALSO SEE Goa in December 2016: Fun events to be at this December in Goa)
There are few places in India that celebrate Christmas with as much zest and thrill as Goa does. The whole place, which is already a hub of exciting activities, transforms into a beehive of sparkling lights, singing and dancing events, parties with groovy music and churches decorated with a great deal creativity. The locals celebrate Christmas, like all other places across the globe, with family get-togethers which are characterized by an exchange of presents, home-made sweets and a delicious meal. Some churches like the Basilica of Bom Jesus and the Church of Immaculate conception are renowned for their midnight mass which is attended by hundreds of locals and tourists. The market places glitter in all their glory with many shop-keepers dressed up as Santa Claus. You can see well-decorated Christmas trees everywhere you go and the whole atmosphere is a merry one.
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Photograph Courtesy: Silent Noise/Facebook
In Goa, Christmas is celebrated the European way with most people spending the festival with their respective families. Around 10 days before Christmas, a family group or a village group goes carol singing with one person dressed as Santa. They go around with a fund-box to collect funds that are later used to arrange a meal for the poor. On Christmas Eve, you will see a star made of wood and kite paper hung outside several houses.
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Food is a big part of any celebration or festival in the world. Goan cuisine is extremely popular and when it comes to Christmas, the Goans leave no stone unturned when it comes to preparing delicacies. Typically, a fruit-cake made of dry fruit and wine is treated as the Christmas sweet and is prepared in almost every household. Apart from this, there are a number of local sweets like neureos (stuffed dry fruit with coconut), dodol (coconut and cashew squares) and coconut nest (strips of tender coconut dipped in sugar arranged like a bird’s nest on kite paper) and the very popular Goan sweet dish bebinca. Locals prepare these sweets at home and send it to relatives and friends in decorative baskets with a hearty Christmas note. The traditional family dinner on Christmas Eve consists of turkey or chicken, pork sorpotel and pulao. The family get-together is a happy time for everyone with lots of food, drinks, singing and dancing which goes on till around 11.30 pm after which people head for the midnight mass.
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In comparison, the day of Christmas is rather quiet. People just visit their family and friends and have a good time opening presents kept under the Christmas tree. The festivities carry for a few more days even after Christmas. On New Years Eve, children sit with an scare-crow like effigy of an old man and collect funds from passers-by. This Old Man effigy is burnt at midnight which is symbolic of leaving the past behind and starting the new year on a good note. The festive Christmas season officially ends on January 6 with the Feast of the Magi or the three kings who had come to pay their respects to the infant Jesus. A Church service and symbolic procession of the three kings is held at three places in Goa marking the end of the festivities.
During the festive Christmas season, Goa is a delight for several reasons other than the festivities itself. First, the weather is simply amazing. It makes you want to step out and explore the beaches of this wonderland as much as the amazing interiors. Ideal for sight-seeing, December is the month when you can take a long bike ride right from the Keri beach in the north to Palolem and Patnem in the south without feeling exhausted (like you would during the summer months). You can also indulge in various water sporting activities which are offered at several beaches during this season. You can explore the amazing churches of Goa which are at their prime during Christmas and the days surrounding it. The sheer brilliance of the architecture and their historic significance will take you back in time. Add to this the number of parties, Christmas and New Year events, and travel deals that are available during Christmas, and you will understand why Goa is the best place to spend your December in India. From backpackers to luxury travelers, solo tourists to family vacationers, history buffs to party hoppers, and religious believers to atheists, there is something for every kind of visitor in Goa during Christmas. It is the best time to witness this wonderful beachland on the west coast of India in all its glory.
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