Let’s spread the love and eat delicious sweets everybody because its Christmas Time! The most wonderful time of the year where the whole world takes on a magic glow. There's nothing cosier than the glow of Christmas lights. Even though the Christian community is not huge in many countries, still Christmas is celebrated in a big way.
In India, a lot of people are celebrating Christmas, especially in Mumbai city. Many of the citizens of Mumbai are Roman Catholics and come from or have roots in Goa. Furthermore, the states of Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram, have high populations of Christians as well, thus they are celebrating Christmas. Sweets like Coconut Barfi, Kulkuls, Gujia or Nuereos with coconut filling are prepared weeks ahead of Christmas time. Making these sweets is a family affair, as all the women in the family get together and make them over a weekend or two. The neighbours are exchanging sweets while dancing on the streets. Christmas in India is a colourful festival with fairy lights and flowers everywhere. Instead of having traditional Christmas trees, a banana or mango tree is decorated.
Mumbai streets during Christmas
Similarly, there are so many magical things to do in London at Christmas. London is transformed into a sparkling winter wonderland every December. London's shopping streets sparkle with Christmas lights and are crowded with people buying gifts. Going to Trafalgar Square, you can see the biggest tree of the city, and listen to Christmas carols. London boasts a huge variety of Christmas markets where you can find shops for handmade gifts and festive food. You can have the most popular Christmas experience in Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, ice skating and watching festive shows. London’s famous New Year's Eve fireworks take place every year at the Coca-Cola London Eye on new Year’s Eve. London's tradition of streets festive lights appears to have started in Regent Street, since the 1880s. The most famous place to view Christmas lights in London is Oxford Street. This year, lights will be lit on the 6th of November. Bond Street, which is a renowned high-end shopping district in London, is illuminated beneath elegant plumes of twinkling Christmas lights every year.
London streets during Christmas
On the delicacies side, Christmas puddings with brandy sauce and mincemeat pies are popular treats in the UK on Christmas Day. The star of the show for Christmas dinner is turkey with all the accompaniments such as stuffing with cranberry sauce and Brussel sprouts. Every year, millions of British citizens tune in to watch the Queen’s Christmas Message, wishing them a happy Christmas. It is one of the highlights of the Parliamentary year, full of both pageantry and political significance.
Christmas in Cyprus is traditionally celebrated on 25th of December. The weather in Cyprus, is as mild as 13℃ even at night time, we may not have snow in the cities during Christmas- except in the mountain of Troodos- but there are lots of activities, unique events and interesting customs which are happening indoors and outdoors.
Some of today’s traditions may seem pretty similar to English ones. With the English colonisation of Cyprus between 1925 and 1960, English practises like decorating Christmas Trees gradually became adopted. At Cyprus streets you can smell the sweet aroma of "kourabiedes" and "melomakarona" cookies. This atmosphere starts 2 weeks before Christmas. The towns are well decorated with Father Christmas statues, snowmen and lights. On Christmas Eve, you can listen to children singing ‘Kalanta’, playing drums and triangles. Even though the holiday is preceded by a time of fasting, 40 days, the Cypriot housewives are preparing an army of little plates to fill the long festive dinner tables, since Cypriots coming back home from Church after receiving the Holy Communion, look forward to sitting down at the holiday feast with all their family and breaking fast. Traditionally, they prepare and smoke their own homemade sausages made from lamb and pork.
The traditional day for presents in Cyprus is January 1st, Santa Claus day (Saint Basil). Saint Basil lived in the fourth century AD, became Bishop of Caesaria in 370 AD and was famous for helping the poor. During a siege, the people were called upon to pay a ransom, donating their gold coins and jewels, the enemy was touched by the spirit of the people and returned the gold and jewels, but it was impossible to return the items to their rightful owners. The task fell to Saint Basil to redistribute the wealth in an equitable manner. The saint baked the jewels into loaves of bread and distributed them to each household and miraculously, the items were returned to their rightful owners. From there on, to honour Saint Basil, every Christmas, we cook Vasilopita, a traditional sweet bread with a lucky coin placed into the batter. Whoever finds the coin will be the healthiest and the wealthiest of the family.
Christmas time all over the world, is a celebration of humanity dating back thousands of years. It’s a time of joy, when somebody ‘breaks into your house’ and eats your cookies, whilst replacing the food with presents.