Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Across the Ocean * The Star of India*

Last year, this was the largest star ornament located at Cochin in Kerala, India.  The star was noted in the Guiness Book of Records in December of 2009.  It is 103 feet, 8" long, and weighs in at 9,259 lbs.

Another state in India that brings on the real spirit of Christmas with their elaborate displays of stars is Goa.  Goa was one of 3 Portugese provinces in India-for 451 years.  India invaded these territories in 1961 and brought them into it's domain.  For centuries Goa was considered the headquarters of the Catholic Church in the orient.  Goa is India's smallest state located in southwest India in the region known as the Konkan.  And it is noted for its beautiful Cathedrals and serene beaches.   At Christmas, almost every home in Goa has the light of a star shining to welcome the coming of Christ.
A shop in Goa where colorful Christmas stars may be purchased

A Christmas star in flora fusion

I know I have mentioned before that my mother was born and raised in India.  She lived in Allahabad as a young girl and attended St. Mary's High School.  Later her family moved to Lucknow where she attended The Loreto Convent.  The schools were either boarding or day schools depending on your needs.  Her father, my Grandfather, was of French and Indian descent, and her mother, my Grandmother, was of German descent.  Mom and her four sisters, all of whom are still living, attended English schools  and the Catholic Church.  I asked mom to enlighten me a little about her Christmases growing up.

* In her own words my mother says: *
"Christmas was celebrated all over India, the schools let out for winter vacation and we were off a whole month.  But, we were kept busy, making paper decorations for the house, knitting gifts, and Mums was busy with her baking.  We had to sort through the various raisins she used, then they were rinsed and put out to dry.  Almonds were cracked, soaked and peeled, and then dried and chopped to be used in the cake.  Spices were pounded, also to be used in the cake.  Mums used suet, and it was put through a special process to be used in the fruit cake and also in the plum pudding."

Plum Pudding Cake

"Our idea of tree decorations came from books, so we usually picked a tree outdoors, decorated it with paper chains and used candles for lights.  All of the British clubs had a Father Christmas who dressed up and passed out gifts.  We usually hung our stockings on the bedposts, but whenever he came, our toys were generally held in pillowcases, and, yes, we left him a piece of cake that mysteriously disappeared overnight."     

Indian paper chains for Christmas Trees

"As soon as we were old enough, we attended Midnight Mass, when we lived in Allahabad.  It was a huge church, actually a cathedral, and the inside walls were painted by Italian artists.  It was a high mass, and I'll never forget it-I've not been to anything quite like it here in the States.  It could be that my child's mind was impressed-I was probably around 7 years old."

"Christmas day was an all day celebration, even the servants got into the spirit.  They came around for 'baksheesh' (gift), and the gardner's were out in full force selling boutonnieres and posies made from various flowers taken from nearby gardens, including ours!  The Indian Sepoy's got into the act and actually did band concerts.  It's funny, now that I think about it-these Indians didn't have any concept of English music, but they seemed to get the hang of it.  Dinner was the final end of a big day.  We had roast duck, turkey, or whatever fowl was available.  Daddy would somehow get a ham, usually Australian, and the plum pudding would be brought out all lit up.  That was a real treat for us kids, and then, finally, we got to pull the crackers with the little gifts flying out."

"We would run into the Tommies (British soldiers) after Midnight Mass was over, going back to their barracks after a night of boozing-they were a big mess, but I guess they missed their homes and families at Christmas.  That was a scene my parents did not want us kids to see."

"All these things are my remembrances of Christmas throughout the years.  It was a lovely time of the year, cold, but the flowers were blooming and everything was green."


my Mom, Alma Ena Gabriel as a teenager

The following pictures are ones I gathered from Yahoo images search pertaining to Christmas in various parts of India...please enjoy!

Mango Christmas Tree decorated with balloons

handmade silk Christmas star

 sand sculpture of Santa in Puri, India

 Christmas shopping in New Delhi, India

 Christmas festival in Raju, India

festival of trees-Embassy Hotel in Surat, India

Vizhinjam Church in Kerala State, South India, near the sea shore

an Indian Christmas buffet from

Christmas Stars in Nagercoil, Tamu, India

This  post is dedicated to my mother and her family.  I got to meet my Grandmother once when she came to the U.S. on a VISA.  She was a little woman with very long braided hair that she wrapped up around her head.  My Grandfather passed away in 1965, I never got to meet him.  One of my mother's sisters, Gertrude, who we got to see frequently,  lives in Germantown, Wisconsin, Ethel, whom we also got to spend time with,  lives in Europe, Edie lives in New Delhi (I got to meet her a couple of times), and her youngest sister, Yvonne, whom I've never met, is currently living in Australia.

My mother is a major contributor to this blog.  She just (unknowingly) THROWS ideas out there from 600 miles away, and I'm like a magnet-just sucking all the info in!

I sincerely hope that you, my wonderful readers, enjoy reading a little history from times past and lands far away.  I ask you to remember that "no matter where we are, we're all guided by the same bright star."

Other sources of information gathered for this story came from:

And by the way, my survey on The Nina Ship of Columbus...I had two voters, and I thank you kindly for participating.  However, my correct answer was 27 crew aboard the Nina.  But, I have seen several different numbers for the headcount (24 and 25).  Guess I'd better get my facts a little bit straighter!
We're all winners!

And thanks so much for your visits, comments and Christmas wishes on my post "The Good Shepherd".  My mom emailed me and said she liked the post and the verse. 

So, I must vamoose-finally finished my tree and DEAD batteries in both cameras!  I know, I know, it sounds like an excuse.  I've seen so many beautiful Christmas trees on your blogs this year.  I'm trying to get mine on here, really I am.  Just need to quit writing so much and get with the program.  And I do have a few gifts to wrap-bah!  Hope to pop back in today with some pics!

 See Ya!

Nadolig Llawen! (Merry Christmas in Welsh)


  1. Wow, Susan! I love this post!! I love learning how other countries celebrate Christmas! I had no idea how the people from India celebrated this glorious holiday. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the beautiful stars!!! I want one!! I have a star on top of my Christmas tree, but it does not light up. The beautiful gold one that you pictured here, reminds me of the one that we had on our tree when I was little. You don't see them like that anymore. Thank you for sharing about our history and your mother sounds like she is a sweetheart! ~ God Bless!

  2. Hi Becky, those stars are gorgeous. I don't think I've ever seen any like them before. They say almost everyone in India will put one up on their house at Christmas. Holidays in other countries have become a real interest to me since all of our fun Halloween posts this year. Thanks for visiting. My mom is pretty great!

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