Although Christmas celebrations is one of the biggest festivals for Christians living in the US and London; it has a rather universal appeal. The charm of Christmas has penetrated different cultures and subcultures; to an effect where we as a nation don’t think of it as anything but our own. It has just as much sentimental value attached to it as much as Diwali or Puja.
Now, there definitely are Christians in many parts of India, and they have all the reasons to celebrate it with aplomb. Interestingly, you’ll see non-Christians making merry as well like there’s no tomorrow. Because, why not. The whiff of freshly baked cake comes from every other house and bakery on the streets; the roads are decked up with lights, people go about wearing Santa Claus caps, and exchanging gifts and singing carols all night long are the many things people do. If you want to relish these celebrations in India, these are the cities that do it the best.
People are extremely excited about Christmas in Kolkata, which was the capital of the British government until 1911. It’s still home to a lot of Anglo-Indians, who celebrate Christmas in a big way. Walking through the thoroughly decked-up Bow Barracks, shopping at New Market, grabbing some fruit cake at Nahoum, and attending the midnight mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral are a few must-do, if you’re in the city during Christmas.
There are a good number of Christians in Kochi. This little town in God’s own country, has some of the most spectacular churches. And what a sight they are during Christmas when they’re bedecked with gorgeous lights and Christmas trees. The streets especially at Fort Kochi are breathtakingly beautiful. The many cafes there offer the best cake of the season; there’s lights in every nook and cranny of the street, and the highlight is the St. Francis Church which was built by the Portuguese in the 16th-century, and is proudly, the oldest European church in India.
If you want a Christmas that’ll stay with you forever, and will be well within your budget, head to Shimla. It’s one thing to put cotton-snow on your Christmas tree, and another to experience snow-clad mountains all around you. Run to the hills where there are perfect cottages and decked-up malls, and happy faces, and smiling people serving coffee and cakes in the cafes. After all, ’tis the season to be jolly. Also try and get a ride on the Kalka-Shimla Toy Train, with your loved ones for a complete experience.
Goa is famous as the party hub; but it’s important to note how gorgeous it is during Christmas. Especially Panjim, where the streets look like they’re straight out of a fairy tale. There are huge crowds of people thronging the beach, casinos, and of course the numerous pubs. A cruise on Mandovi river is also quite an experience, essentially because of the slight nip in the air. The bakeries in Goa make the best plum cake, and houses cook up aromatic fares for the whole family. The local churches are beautifully decorated; it’s worth walking the streets of Goa during Christmas.