April 28, 2022

#BlogchatterA2Z: Xmas in Goa - it’s the season to be jolly.

If you ask Goans what the best time to visit Goa is, you will get one unanimous answer. ‘December’.

December to us Goans is easily the best time of the year, with everyone in a laidback holiday spirit, welcoming relatives and friends into their home and heart. 

This is the time of the year when most Goans settled abroad make a trip back home. Nostalgia reigns supreme. And this adds to the general bonhomie and joie de vivre in the family. 

Needless to say, the biggest highlight of the season is that it’s Christmas time. 

The Xmas season possesses its own special charm for us Goans. The sound of Church bells and Christmas carols playing across streets, brightly illuminated star-lanterns hanging outside homes and shops, men and women in their best attire setting out for midnight mass, these are some of the common sights you’d see in Goa this time of the year. Christmas is family time, a time to bond with long lost relatives and friends. Christmas is a time when both the young age old come together and make merry.  

One spectacular feature of a Goan Xmas is the nativity scene. You have to witness it to know it. 

Preparations for setting up the nativity scene commences days in advance. The village youth, irrespective of religion, indulge in constructing and setting up. The nativity is an essential element of a Goan Christmas.

The traditional nativity scene includes the manger depicting the birth of baby Jesus and the arrival of the three kings. Some contemporary versions of the nativity scene have modern elements of splendour and celebration. Nowadays, new technology is employed to create an electronic, musical setup that is not just a treat to the eyes but brings alive the spirit of the festival.

However, the main feature of this scene is the crib and that is not a glaring but always a spectacular effort. 

The verdant landscapes Green adorning the crib is usually created by germinating seedlings of millet around a couple of weeks before Xmas so that by December 24 at the achieve the desired height. This is a feature particular to Christmas cribs only in Goa. Sand clay, stone, and other materials are used to make the crib with little figurines of baby Jesus, Mother Mary, the Three Kings, shepherds, and animals for representation. 

The youngsters create new and innovative themes for their cribs every year. They also make decorative items for the Xmas tree, the star and the crib. 

Arrangements start a couple of weeks before Xmas. The Christmas tree is selected, the box of yearly ornaments taken down from the attic, and electrical circuits are checked in preparation. The house is soon to be spruced up for Christmas, with strings of fairy lights adorning its walls and the decked tree strategically placed for all to see and appreciate.

The womenfolk prepare an assortment of Christmas sweets and other delicacies which are to be sent to near and dear ones as ‘Kuswar’ (or ‘Consoada’). This includes most loved delicacies like Kulkuls (curly fried pastry strips dipped in sugar treacle), Guliyo (chewy Rice marbles which are hard to bite), Neuriyos, rose cookies, Bibinca, Doce, Bolinhas Dodol, plum cake, among other things. 

With most of these available in the market, Kuswar nowadays remains a mere formality.  That said, nothing beats the taste of good old traditionally prepared Christmas sweets, made and offered with love.

In the good old days, Christmas meant going Carol singing around the neighbourhood, with one of the kids (usually the most rotund) dressed up as Santa. 

Today, the world has become a far more private place with fears of all sorts lurking in the heart (and for good reason). Also, technology has created quite the boom. And so, out goes the carol singing, and in comes the play station. Out goes the intimate time spent with family bonding over preparation of Christmas sweets. In comes elaborate cake mixing ceremonies in 5 star hotels where you click pictures (for Instagram) with strangers. This too has its upside though. You get to know more people and make new friends, which again, is the essence of Christmas.   

But it is always a pleasure witnessing Christmas celebrations in Goan villages that still maintain tradition and celebrate Xmas the old fashioned way. 

Afterall, extravagance and splendour can never replace simplicity and affection. Love and true Christmas spirit can never go out of fashion, can it? 

So here’s to loving and living the festive spirit not just in December but all year round. Here’s to preserving the old and embracing the new, to keeping us connected with each other and with a higher God. 

To all this, we raise a cheer and say, ‘Obrigado, Goa!

Come back tomorrow for the penultimate feature of my series. 

Until then,

Mog aasu di. 

(Let there be love!) 


I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z. 

My theme for the challenge is ‘Obrigado, Goa!’, under which I’ll be writing 26 posts on Goa (April 1-30th, excluding Sundays), each post corresponding to the letters of the English alphabet. You can read more about it in my theme reveal post.


Harshita Nanda said...

I have a Goan friend, and when she couldn't travel to Goa for Christmas she herself made all the Kuswar and sent it across

Pri said...

Yes, Harshita. You can take a Goan out of Goa, but you can never take 'Goa' out of a Goan. :)