An Indian Christmas


In a population of over one billion, approximately 23 million Christian Indians celebrate Christmas in a country where it is not an official holiday. They attend church with their families and then return home for a Christmas dinner. There are indoor decorations but nothing festoons the outside of their homes if the family lives in a strict non-Christian district. British influence throughout the years has made gift giving popular. In the larger cities, like Delhi, caroling takes place in the streets and Father Christmas even makes visits to local department stores to entertain the children.

Each region of India has its own way of preparing for and celebrating the Christmas season. Some use small, clay, oil-burning lamps as indoor decorations, while other tribal Christians will spend the season caroling every night, all night, to other surrounding villages. The churches are decorated with lit candles and poinsettias, and the services last anywhere from two to three hours. Some homes bring in Christmas trees as decoration, while others use substitutes like mango trees. Indians who celebrate Christmas give out baksheesh, handouts to the impoverished, in addition to giving gifts to family and friends.




Copyright 2003 Mary E. Bishop