It has in many ways been a very strange Christmas. Some really nice events have happened and some really not that nice. But well, that’s not actually the topic of this story.
This was actually the third time I celebrated Christmas here in India. First time was a few years back when I stayed with a colleague in Hyderabad. Last year I was in Chennai. So this was actually the first time I stayed in Mumbai for Christmas. This absolutely gave time for some thoughts and some reflections about what Christmas really mean to people in India. A lot of friends and family back in Norway have asked me about if Christmas is celebrated at all in India, given that this is mostly a Hindu country. The really simple answer to that is that Christmas is absolutely celebrated in India! Indians never let any opportunity for a party go away from them.
But I think it is fair to say that it is being celebrated a bit different here. The preparation for Christmas seems to be much more in Norway then what I have seen in India. That is off course maybe because I don’t have my family around me here in India, and that things might be different in Indian families. But I do honestly feel like the idea of exchanging of gifts is not as big here as it is in Norway. If you go to any shopping mall in Norway in the weeks leading up to Christmas you will see people rushing around from place to place buying presents. The same I have not really seen here. Also the idea of Santa seems to be a bit different. In Norway it should be Santa who actually comes with the gifts. I celebrated Christmas this year with some friends from Australia and UK, and here we put the gifts under the Christmas tree. And I have hardly seen any people dressed like Santa in the streets. Another clear difference is the cakes. In Norway we are quite picky about the cakes that are made especially for Christmas. These are cakes that are never made at the rest of the year and very special for Christmas. In India I have not seen any of the Norwegian Christmas cakes, well, except the one I made myself then.
Here in India it seems like Christmas is more a time to go to a party. The 25th is a public holiday, so the 24th is a good time to go partying. That the 24th this year was on a Saturday didn’t make the parties smaller.
We took a bit of the religious approach this year and went to a catholic church on Christmas morning (the 25th). I think it was only the second or third time in my life that I attended a catholic church for Christmas, but it was surely very nice, and I enjoyed it. The night before it had been a midnight mess at the same church, and it was clear to see that that one had had a lot of participants. The mess we went into had quite a few participants, but it was not really chock-a-block full.
The rest of the day I spent with my Australian-British neighbors. We were people from Australia, UK, India and Norway present there. And with my neighbors having spent some time in Sweden it was a party mixed of traditions from different countries. It was really nice to have a mix of Swedish chicken and British pudding for dinner. That was something I had never done before, and absolutely a nice way of doing Christmas. And off course we did the exchange of Christmas gifts and played some games after that. A fantastic way to celebrate Christmas.
Merry Christmas to all of you!
Talk to you soon