Christmas Holiday Season Traditions in Seychelles
Written by Editor on 5th December 2023
Christmas Holiday Season Traditions in Seychelles 2023
Christmas in Seychelles is a festive and joyous occasion marked by a unique blend of local traditions, cultural influences, and tropical celebrations. The capital Victoria, on Mahe, is decorated with bright lights and colourful ornaments. Strolling its streets and admiring the decorations is a popular holiday pastime with families. Here are ways (old vs new) of how Christmas is celebrated in Seychelles.
Christmas Carols around Seychelles
It’s inconceivable to have a Christmas without carols. As December arrives, the melodious notes of Christmas carols echo through every community. Church and Office choirs and groups from orphanages unite to spread festive cheer, filling town centers, hospital wards, homes for the elderly, and churches with the spirit of the season.
Christmas Tree & Decorations
Seychellois finds pride and joy in decorating their homes with a colourful array of tinsel and fairy lights. The tradition of having a Christmas tree in households persists, with artificial trees being the preferred choice today. In earlier times, families would cut a small Casuarina tree or a branch.
Christmas Eve Dinner and Midnight Mass
On the evening of December 24, families will get together and enjoy a Christmas Dinner at home or these days families go out for dinner. Faithful individuals gather for Midnight Mass, marking the celebration of Christmas Eve. It’s a moment filled with the soul-stirring melodies of “Silent Night” and “O Holy Night.”
If you are visiting Seychelles and would like to attend Midnight Mass – each district has a church that you can attend, but the biggest Mass will be held in Victoria Town at Immaculate Conception Catholic Cathedral in Olivier Maradan St.
Morning Mass, Christmas Day & Lunch/Dinner
Today, many households follow the tradition of placing gifts under the Christmas tree, eagerly awaiting their opening on Christmas Day. For children, this moment is particularly magical, as they excitedly discover the presents brought by Santa Claus.
In the past, not every family had the means to purchase gifts. Instead, children were often presented with a new item of clothing, be it a dress, shoes, or a hat.
On Christmas morning, another Mass is conducted to commemorate the birth of baby Jesus. In times gone by, attendance at Mass was a mandatory practice for believers.
Families typically come together to celebrate Christmas with a quiet lunch and/or dinner. The atmosphere is cozy and intimate.
On New Year’s Eve, the festivities take on a grander and more exuberant scale, midnight countdown accompanied by the joyful sound of popping champagne bottles. Wishes are exchanged, and the merriment continues well into the early morning hours.
In keeping with tradition, homemade papaya, and java-apple jams were prepared in advance for both Christmas and New Year. Additionally, home-raised pigs were slaughtered for these special occasions, and the bounty was shared with neighbors. The menu also featured the traditional inclusion of black pudding.
Festive season cards
Sending cards to family and friends used to be a significant tradition during the festive season. The joy of discovering who remembered you for the holidays and reading the heartfelt messages was truly special. The absence of a card could dampen the festive spirit.
In times when not everyone could afford elaborate decorations, these cards were often strung together and hung around the house or placed on the Christmas tree.
In the present day, the tradition has shifted, and communication through SMS, phone calls, and emails has taken precedence.
Visiting those who have passed
This tradition is observed by a select few during the festive season, either before or on Christmas Day.
In the past, it was customary for everyone to hurry to the cemetery before attending the morning service to visit their dearly departed.
Alternatively, some individuals choose to visit grave sites on New Year’s Day or the day that follows.
Christmas Holiday Season Traditions in Seychelles continues in giving thanks
On the eve of December 31st, individuals gather to express gratitude for the year that has passed. This day is marked by reflections on the challenges and triumphs of the preceding months, and people take the opportunity to give thanks for the experiences that have shaped them. As the clock ticks towards midnight, a spirit of anticipation fills the air, and celebrations ensue with joyous gatherings, festivities, and expressions of gratitude.
As the new year dawns on January 1st, many individuals begin their day by attending church services. This symbolic act serves as a spiritual foundation for the year ahead, as people seek blessings, guidance, and inspiration for the journey that lies ahead. Attending these services is not only a tradition but also a meaningful way for individuals to start the new year with a sense of purpose and connection to their faith.
Christmas in Seychelles is a time of reflection, celebration, and togetherness, blending the country’s unique cultural influences with the universal spirit of the holiday season.