Christmas Traditions in Goa


Christmas is a fun time of the year for everyone. People are in a festive mood and everyone is looking to have the time of their lives. Following Christmas traditions also stands strong at this particular time of year.

Christmas traditions in Goa make the season a festive one

Christmas in Goa has always been something everyone looks forward to. The young and the old look forward to all the parties, the rich food, the drinks and not to forget the scrumptious sweets that almost every household prepares. Everyone’s home is decorated with festive buntings and lights and all kinds of Christmas decorations. The very wealthy sometimes hire professional decorators to do up their homes with all things Christmas related, right down to minute details.

Most Goan Catholics will make their way to their local churches for midnight mass celebrations either on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. It’s an extremely peaceful and soothing affair in the middle of the masses of tourists that turn up to eat drink and make merry in Goa during this season. After all, it’s what Christmas in Goa means to these tourists. The traditions are different for everyone.

It’s actually interesting to learn that wasn’t the Portuguese who started these traditions in Goa. That distinction goes to the hippies who made Goa a Christmas destination. The ‘50’s and ‘60’ saw a lot of Americans and other Westerners discover Indian classical music and Indian mystic traditions. Scattered all over the country, they would meet up to celebrate Christmas in Goa since ours was the most visible Christian of all the states in India. And it didn’t and doesn’t freeze during December which is a definite bonus for these westerners.

Christmas for one and all

The great thing about celebrating Christmas in Goa is that you don’t need to be a Catholic to enjoy the season’s festivities. Even going for midnight mass is open to each and every soul that hits Goa’s streets as long as they abide by the rules of Christmas (for want of a better expression). Religion doesn’t really matter in this case since Christmas is all about love, hope and understanding and opening up yourself and your home to people you normally might not do such things for.

The traditions that made Christmas in Goa what it is

Christmas preparations in Goa usually start almost a month in advance. A lot of effort is taken to plan the Christmas day feast which ends up with so much of food being made that the table literally groans under the weight of it all.

Christmas sweets get a table of their own since again, there is a variety of these that no one, not even the weight conscious and the diabetics can resist. With all the marzipan, kulkuls, neureos, fruit cake with rum and everything else, it’s almost enough to give someone a sugar high just reading about it or looking at pictures!

Other Christmas traditions

Other Christmas traditions include the preparation of a crib depicting the birth of Jesus in a manger with Joseph, Mary and the sheep and cattle surrounding him People build these from very tiny to the humongous which won’t fit indoors. Some get innovative and build them from waste and scraps, fashioning each figure very carefully and painting them to look as realistic as possible.

Tree decorating and Christmas carolling are also other fun Christmas traditions that people follow in Goa. Since we don’t get evergreen pine trees in Goa, most people pick up the fake kind and proceed to decorate them lavishly with baubles, little figurines of angels, reindeer, Santa Claus and yards and yards of tinsel. And gift giving is another much-loved tradition that goes hand in hand with the tree. Everyone gets to give and receive prettily wrapped presents which increases the excitement level even more.

Decorating the tree.
Image for reference only. Image credit –


DTATS Pic Abbie Trayler-Smith. The pic shows The Choir of King’s College Cambridge rehearsing in the Royal Albert Hall.
Image for reference only.
Image credit –

Christmas carolling is a relatively new tradition to Goa even though it’s much practised abroad during the festive season. Carol singers go from house to house singing Christmas carols and bring cheer to everyone with their melodious voices. The best part, anyone can join in even if they didn’t start out with the group.

These are classic Christmas traditions but people sometimes come up with their own. What are some new ones that you or someone you know has created? Write in, to us at ItsGoa and let us know.  You can also have a look at these quirky Christmas traditions celebrated around the world. From all of us here, we wish you a very Merry Christmas! Have a great one!