Christmas in Madeira is so rooted that one night is just not enough to celebrate. Now, we have one more reason to party: Pestana CR7 Funchal is reopening on December 26th!
Did you know that Madeira was considerer the safest Christmas market in Europe for Covid-19 by the European Best Destinations?
Every year, between December 1st and January 15th, there are dozens of parties, markets, and activities, the fireworks over Funchal’s bay being one of the highlights. You already know that New Year’s Eve is taken seriously in Madeira, but this time we want to talk about 2 very specific Christmas traditions in the region: the nativity scenes and the birth masses.
All the island is decorated with bright lights, Christmas pines full of ornaments, and traditional nativity scenes. These ones, particularly, are one of the most tender customs in Madeira. Nativity scenes are presented in two different ways: “lapinhas” or “escadinhas” (small limpets or stairs” and “rochinha” (little rock).
in the first version, figures are places in steps over a table decorated with traditional embroidery and rounded with flowers. Baby Jesus is at the top, the shepherds are placed under him, along with tangerines, nuts, and chestnuts.
In the second version, the decoration pretends to replicate a cavern made of stone and wood, which also symbolizes the volcanic origin of the island. inside, you can find Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the cow and the donkey, angels, wise men, shepherds, and sheep.
The birth masses
Another tradition of religious origin is the birth masses. between December 16th and 24th, there are 9 masses, one for each month of Mary’s pregnancy. More than a catholic ceremony, it is an opportunity to gather family, neighbors, and friends. Eventually, everyone is having a poncha (or two!) and some snack in each other’s places, because the masses are celebrated at the crack of dawn and followed by Christmas carols with accordion and castanets.