Sri Lanka has a deep appreciation for Christmas, despite a mere 7% of its population identifying as Christian.
The Land of Serendipity is a Buddhist majority when it comes to the national religion. Yet, Christmas Day is a public holiday and it gets celebrated by almost everybody.
It has much to do with Sri Lanka’s diverse history. The country has been ruled by several European powers, so its culture is eclectic and borrows from multiple continents.
Though small, there has been a Catholic presence in the region for a long time.
The majority of Catholic Portuguese ruled Sri Lanka from 1505 to 1650, during which time the invaders introduced many new customs and traditions.
This is how traditional Christmas celebrations, particularly those on Christmas Day, are thought to have been introduced to Sri Lanka.
Today, the festivities begin as early as 1st December when revelers light firecrackers at daybreak.
On the Christmas Eve
Christians in Sri Lanka go to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. These church services are held in many locations across the country.
They’re intended for Christian worship but most churches welcome friends and relatives of any denomination.
As Sri Lankans countdown to Christmas Day, the streets are decorated with lights and shopping malls erect magical Christmas displays.
Businesses organize Christmas parties for their employees and retail centers are filled with people browsing for gifts.
When New Year arrives, some Christians attend church. Others celebrate with fireworks, parties, and gifts.
In Sinhala, the language of Sri Lanka, let us say: Suba Naththalak Wewa (or Merry Christmas)! It is interesting to know how people wish Happy or Merry Christmas in other languages.
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Main Points About Christmas in Sri Lanka
- Christmas preparations in Sri Lanka begins weeks before Christmas. Houses are cleaned, shopping is done and new sets of clothes are bought.
- Although Sri Lanka is a Buddhist dominated country, the Christian families still share the festivities with their non-Christian neighbors.
- Midnight masses, as well as parties, are very common in Sri Lanka on Christmas eve.
- Even though Sri Lanka is not so big on Christmas decorations, streets are well decorated and public places like shopping malls are also elaborately decorated.
- Throughout the country on Christmas eve, Christmas day and boxing day, there are lavish parties, lunch, and dinners.
Despite being a mostly Buddhist country, with only 7 % Christians, mostly Catholics, Christmas is a public holiday in Sri Lanka, and Christmas celebrating here has influences from many European countries.
Big companies and hotels have Christmas parties and Christmas dinner dances, people go to Midnight Mass and Christians invite friends and family, both Christians and non-Christians to their homes for parties at ”Nathtal Seeya”, which is the Sri Lankan name for Christmas.
If you have been to Sri Lanka on Christmas or stay in Sri Lanka then do share your first-hand experience in the comments below.
Word Cloud for Christmas in Sri Lanka
The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Christmas in Sri Lanka. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.
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Chara Yadav holds MBA in Finance. Her goal is to simplify finance-related topics. She has worked in finance for about 25 years. She has held multiple finance and banking classes for business schools and communities. Read more at her bio page.