Come December, and there is a mood of celebration in the air. Holidays get planned, parties are discussed and the coming new year fills hearts with hope. But before the current year is given a farewell, there is of course the last festival of the year to be celebrated – Christmas, the birth of Christ in Bethlehem centuries ago. Unlike some occasions like Thanksgiving and Halloween, which India learnt to celebrate more recently, the history of Christmas celebrations in India is perhaps as old as the arrival of Christianity in the country. And over the years, it has picked up local flavours, to become a celebration that is as Indian as it is global – songs in praise of Jesus are sung in local languages along with the usual English carols and local sweets and savouries share table space with plum pudding, cold meats and wine. In India, Christians constitute only 2.3 per cent of the population (as per Census 2011). But Christmas celebrations are not restricted to Christians. Most children, irrespective of religion, hang up stockings on Christmas Eve, and at Midnight Mass, non-Christians often outnumber Christians at churches. Bada Din (or Big Day) as Christmas is locally known – is literally bada for us. Markets are packed with Christmas trees and decorations, shop windows are decked up in Christmas colours, concerts are held, clubs organise parties, restaurants offer special menus and confectionary stores do brisk business. Read on to get a feel of how Christmas is celebrated in different parts of India, or to know what you should do if you are there this festival season. Cake & Coffee At The Cathedral Church Of Redemption In Delhi while people usually think of Khan Market or possibly the malls while thinking of places to buy Christmas decorations and gifts and papers etc, the best place to do one’s Christmas shopping in the capital, and at a fraction of the price at Khan Market, is Sadar Bazar. There are rows of shops along the street with every kind of Christmas tree imaginable – trees with white leaves, with green ones, with tinsel on them or blinking lights – other items of decoration, tableaus or scenes from the Nativity etc. I know families from other parts of North India coming to Sadar Bazar to do their Christmas shopping.