For most of us, Christmas starts well ahead of the season when preparations get underway for Christmas cake and wine. In Trinushka’s house, the season begins with the smell of Christmas cake in the air , much before December rolls around. “And then all we have to do closer to Christmas is to get the [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

‘Tis the season for traditions

Mirror Magazine speaks to youngsters on long standing family traditions that make the holiday season a special one for families
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For most of us, Christmas starts well ahead of the season when preparations get underway for Christmas cake and wine. In Trinushka’s house, the season begins with the smell of Christmas cake in the air , much before December rolls around.

“And then all we have to do closer to Christmas is to get the Christmas goodies baked,” she says. Anushiya’s family congregates in one place to get the Christmas cake going-in November, of course. The aunties and the grandmas will get together and mix all the ingredients for the cake in a big basin, which is left to sit for about two weeks and then divided amongst the family for baking.

The cake is baked, stirred, and then baked again from time to time till that perfect shade of delicious darkness is achieved. “Our family is big on baking so the Christmas cake’s made at home, under grandma’s watchful supervision,” says Amalini De Sayrah “even though she turns a blind eye to me nicking tons of the almond icing!”

The season is an unusually active one for Joel Isaac’s family. As he says, “For us, food always comes first…and so begins the preparation of food. Even the most unhelpful member in the family suddenly volunteers to help mom with the Christmas cake and the laziest person could be seen decorating the Christmas tree.”
So what’s Christmas without the tree? “My mum’s always believed that you need an authentic Christmas tree to complete celebrations,” says Trinushka. “So we always wait till just two days before Christmas to bring the tree in and that smell is just amazing to wake up to.

Nothing says it better that ‘Christmas is here’ than a tree. Christmas mass is always something to look forward to as well. “We go to Church on Christmas eve late for the midnight service- a traditional part of celebrations since I can remember-so we’re in there when the bells ring and crackers go off at midnight” says Radeeni Algama. “We also go to Church on Christmas morning in saree and stuff for the service, and we’re usually part of the choir. The 4th Advent candle is lit then.

Everybody wishes everyone else and there’s an exchange of gifts as well. A few Sundays before Christmas our youth host Christmas parties, go carolling to elders’ homes etc to spread the cheer, have games like Secret Santa, we have a Carol Service with the kids of the Sunday School and people bring gifts on Gift Sunday to be distributed to the poor and needy.”

Waking up to that familiar red stocking is something these youngsters miss, even though they’re all grown up. “Waking up and seeing what we wanted in our beds was traditional until a few years back,” says Malin Rodrigo. “Even though we don’t get gifts from ‘Santa’ now, we still get gifts from everyone else. Yup, it’s an amazing holiday!”

And what’s Christmas without an expanding waistline? “We start the day with mass and after that it’s off home for a kiribath (milk rice) breakfast. It has been that way for as long as I can remember,” says Amalini. Just like Avurudu they also do the neighbour rounds, distributing goddies to the non-Christian friends and family. “It’s a tradition to go to my uncle’s for Christmas lunch,” smiles Radeeni. “People bring desserts like Christmas Yule Log and Irish Cream Pudding. We also have very Western dishes that we never get otherwise like suckling pig with an apple in its mouth and turkey.” For Malini Christmas lunch is always with family she says. “All the relatives meet up at one house, someone dresses up as Santa, we sing songs and dance and it’s a lot of fun!”

It’s that time of the year when you can belt out some tunes without fearing a good bashing as well.
Hans’ family will get together at the piano for a carol session right after Christmas breakfast.
Joel’s family is a little unorthodox. “Right after church, it’s time for fireworks! While our pets take refuge under the bed we set our lawn ablaze. Fun times.”




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