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How do we celebrate Christmas in Mauritius?

Friday, October 18, 2019
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The Flamboyants trees with their reddish orange flowers during the month of December herald the Christmas festivities in Mauritius. Christmas carols are played on all radio stations, while speakers in shopping malls return the favor. Whether in the city or in rural areas, the island has managed to preserve this atmosphere that is typical of the season, where the streets reveal storefronts and windows that compete in creativity through decoration, luminous and audible toys and the authenticity of the sellers to impress the public.

Mauritians from all communities on the island, from all social strata, are taking advantage of this favorable month to spend the end of the year holidays with their families and also to shop until very late at night. Although Christmas is primarily a Christian celebration, it is considered as a national celebration in Mauritius since it brings families back together for a good and enjoyable meal. 

In churches as well as in shopping malls you can enjoy the Christmas carols at the corner of the nativity scene, sometimes animated, placed next to the traditional Mauritian fir tree Filao, pine, cypress or araucaria.... There will be something for everyone! Fir trees are on sale only a few days before Christmas on the main streets, although in recent years the artificial tree has gained ground not only for its practicality but also for ecological reasons. While Christmas shopping is done for the youngest and oldest, the menu is prepared well before Christmas Eve. While Santa Claus is on his way to the tropics, others gather in churches to relive the birth of Christ during vigils in an atmosphere as prayerful as it is joyful in the light of candles.  Whether during the day or in the evening, the Mauritian Christmas meal is a joyful blend of European, Asian and Creole cultures that reflects the people. While the older ones feast, the younger ones will go to bed quietly but with their hearts beating, hoping that they will find the gifts they have requested, placed at the foot of the tree the next morning. 

The family is at the heart of Mauritian culture and Mauritian families are happy to gather around a meal for Christmas dinner or for the traditional lunch or dinner at the grandparents' house where we will entertain with great ceremony. At the table you can find dishes such as: roasted turkey or roasted chicken accompanied by salads or gratins, or seafood with all kinds of sauces and as desert the essential Christmas log and to be more original; ice cream accompanied by a seasonal fruit salad. The Mauritian Christmas celebration would be incomplete without its family anecdotes, stories of years gone by, laughter guaranteed and end on a high note: the breathtaking fireworks and firecrackers!

 

Emilie Babet

 

 

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