Everybody knows that Goa really comes alive during the months of October through March. It’s what we like to call the season in Goa, and it’s when this little state sees its highest influx of tourism. Anything and everything that has to happen in Goa happens during this time, and there are so many things to do in North Goa. Right from music festivals to parties, restaurant launches and openings to all your favourite water sports. Luxury resorts in Candolim and Calangute are at their highest occupancy around the end of December because one of the most popular reasons to be in Goa around this time is Christmas. Everybody loves celebrating Christmas in Goa because the entire state is wrapped in Yuletide joy. So if you’re in Goa for the holidays, probably staying at a beach hotel in Goa, here is how you can celebrate Christmas like a Goan.
Making of Christmas sweets
Goa is known for its wide selection of sweets that are generally available all year long. These include bebinca, dosh, dodol, penag, and many more that are always available at markets like Mapusa Market which is just 20 mins from most of the luxury beach resorts in Candolim and Calangute. But come Christmas, the people of Goa prepare to make a very different selection of sweets that you will only get at this time of the year. Apart from the traditional Christmas fruit cake, you will find marzipans, kul kuls, milk cream, coconut toffee, almond toffee, nankate (also known as snowballs) and a few others. If you’re lucky and have a few friends living in Goa, you’ll get to try these unique and amazing sweets.
Soaking of dry fruits to make cake
Many luxury resorts in Candolim and Calangute such as the Marquis Beach Resort host grand fruit soaking events at their properties. This humble home tradition is celebrated in a big way by inviting hotel guests and visitors alike to join in the fun. Huge trays of dried fruits and nuts are brought out and then doused in the finest alcohols like rum, sherry, brandy, and whiskey. The fun part comes in when guests are given gloves and asked to get in there and mix the fruits in the alcohol by hand. This is usually done at the end of October or early November since the fruits need to soak in the alcohol for at least 40 days before it can be used to bake the traditional Christmas fruit cake.
Putting up the tree, hanging the star, and decorating the house
This is probably the most enjoyable part of celebrating Christmas in Goa. As early as the end of November, Goans start preparing their house for Christmas, and this means getting all the decorations out. One of the first things that has to be done is the hanging of the star, and this is no easy task. In the villages, the youth usually get together to build a huge star out of bamboo sticks, which is then covered in paper and filled with lights. Similarly, many houses do the same so they can hang it from their balconies. When you see these beautiful handmade stars hanging in the villages from trees and adorning people’s houses, you know that Christmas is around the corner. In addition to that, many villagers indulge in elaborate decorations and lights outside the houses and in their gardens. The same is done at many hotels and resorts in North Goa. It’s what creates the feeling of Christmas in Goa.
This is one of those events that is very unique to Goa. In many of the villages, crib building competitions are hosted on a large scale, and everyone comes together to participate. Whether it’s between different parishes or just between the houses, the building of a crib is an integral part of Christmas celebrations in Goa. This is another event where the youth get involved, coming up with novel ways to present their cribs. Some build actual flowing streams, while others use lights and motors to create the illusion of stars twinkling and characters moving. In some parts of Goa, live cribs with actors are also made and enacted closer to or on Christmas day. A favourite activity for many visitors to Goa is to rent a bike and ride through the villages checking out all the beautiful cribs that people have made and put on display outside their houses.
Midnight mass and the grand Christmas ball
On Christmas Eve, Christians across Goa prepare for midnight mass at their local church. They dress in their finest ware and attend mass as a family. Traditionally, the mass starts at 11 pm on December 24 with carol singing and ends after midnight with all the parishioners wishing each other and sharing coffee and cake. After that, they all head to the community centre or club to celebrate Christmas at the grand Christmas ball. Taking it a step further, many luxury resorts in Candolim and Calangute host their own Christmas parties. The same happens at popular wedding venues and all the major clubs. Christmas parties in Goa are some of the biggest and grandest, second only to the New Year’s Eve parties that happen a few days later. If you’re in Goa in the last week of December and looking for things to do in North Goa, then attending a Christmas and New Year’s party should be at the top of your list.
Christmas in Goa is amazing and definitely needs to be experienced by anyone visiting the state. Have you had the opportunity to celebrate the holidays here?
Check out our other blogs for tips on things to do while in Goa.