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Celebrating Christmas In Kolkata, India


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Blaire Ericksen



Christmas is a time of joy and merriment celebrated by people all over the world. In India, the festival of Christmas is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervor, and Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal, is no exception. Known for its rich culture and vibrant festivities, Kolkata transforms into a magical wonderland during the Christmas season. The city is adorned with intricate decorations, illuminated streets, and lively celebrations that bring people from all faiths together to embrace the festive spirit.


Kolkata, also known as the “City of Joy,” has a unique blend of traditions, with both Christian and non-Christian communities coming together to celebrate Christmas. While Christianity is a minority religion in Kolkata, the city embraces the diversity and inclusivity of the festival. The celebration is not limited to Christians; people from all walks of life participate in the festivities, immersing themselves in the joy and warmth of the season.


The history of Christmas in Kolkata dates back to the colonial era when the British introduced their customs and traditions to the city. Over time, these traditions merged with the rich Bengali cultural heritage, creating a unique fusion that is observed during Christmas celebrations in Kolkata today. The city’s churches come alive with melodious carol singing, midnight masses, and vibrant decorations that captivate the senses of locals and tourists alike.


In this article, we will take a closer look at the history of Christmas in Kolkata, the elaborate decorations that adorn the city, the churches and their Christmas services, the bustling markets for shopping, the delectable food and delicacies associated with the festival, the melodious carol singing and musical performances, the cultural events and festivities that take place, and the charitable and social initiatives that embody the true spirit of Christmas in Kolkata. So, come along as we dive into the enchanting world of Christmas celebrations in the City of Joy.


History of Christmas in Kolkata

The celebration of Christmas in Kolkata has its roots in the colonial era when the British brought their Christmas traditions to the city. The first recorded Christmas celebration in Kolkata can be traced back to the early 18th century when the British East India Company established its presence in the region. The British merchants, officials, and soldiers started celebrating Christmas in their own way, bringing their customs and traditions to the city.


Over the years, these traditions merged with the local Bengali culture, giving rise to a unique fusion that is observed during Christmas celebrations in Kolkata. The city’s vibrant festive spirit and inclusive nature have made Christmas a significant celebration for people of all faiths. It is not uncommon to see non-Christians participating in the festivities, fully embracing the joy and warmth of the season.


The churches in Kolkata play a vital role in preserving the traditions of Christmas. St. Paul’s Cathedral, the iconic Anglican church in Kolkata, holds a special place in the hearts of the city’s residents. Constructed in the Gothic Revival architectural style, this majestic church serves as a symbol of Kolkata’s colonial past. It attracts people from all walks of life during Christmas, with its magnificently decorated interiors and soul-stirring carol services.


Another significant church in Kolkata is the St. John’s Church, which has a history dating back to the early 19th century. This church holds a special midnight service on Christmas Eve, where the local choir enchants the attendees with melodious carol singing. The sound of Christmas hymns and the flickering candlelight create a serene and magical atmosphere that captures the true essence of the season.


Apart from the grandeur of the churches, Christmas in Kolkata is also celebrated in the numerous residential areas and local communities. People decorate their homes with stars, cribs, and twinkling lights, converting the city into a luminous wonderland. Each neighborhood takes pride in showcasing their unique Christmas decorations, sometimes even organizing friendly competitions to see who can create the most stunning display.


In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of Christmas events and celebrations across the city. Shopping malls, hotels, and public parks organize festive activities and entertainment, attracting both locals and tourists. From Christmas-themed parties and musical performances to art exhibitions and cultural programs, there is something for everyone to enjoy and participate in during the holiday season.


The history of Christmas in Kolkata is a testament to the city’s ability to embrace diversity and celebrate different cultures. The fusion of British traditions with the local Bengali culture has created a unique and inclusive Christmas celebration that is cherished by all. The vibrant decorations, soulful carol singing, and the spirit of togetherness make Christmas in Kolkata truly special and a joyous occasion for everyone involved.


Christmas Decorations in Kolkata

When Christmas approaches, the city of Kolkata transforms into a mesmerizing spectacle of lights and colors. The streets, buildings, and public spaces are adorned with elaborate decorations that create a festive atmosphere, spreading joy and cheer to everyone who visits. The Christmas decorations in Kolkata are known for their creativity and grandeur, making the city a delight to behold during the holiday season.


The most iconic symbol of Christmas in Kolkata is the Christmas star. These stars come in various sizes and designs, and they can be seen hanging from balconies, street lamps, and even trees. The stars are often made from paper, plastic, or beautiful fabrics, and they add a touch of magic to the city skyline, especially when lit up in the evening. The stars symbolize the guiding star that led the Three Wise Men to the birthplace of Jesus, embodying the spirit of hope and guidance.


In addition to stars, colorful fairy lights are also a common sight throughout the city during Christmas. Buildings, trees, and even entire streets are decorated with twinkling lights, creating a dazzling display. The lights add a festive ambiance to the cityscape and bring a sense of joy and wonder to both locals and visitors. Walking through the illuminated streets of Kolkata during Christmas is truly a magical experience.


Christmas trees are another essential element of the festive decorations in Kolkata. From small tabletop trees to towering ones in public spaces, these evergreen symbols are beautifully adorned with baubles, tinsel, and ornaments in hues of gold, silver, red, and green. Many shopping malls and hotels go the extra mile by setting up giant Christmas trees that serve as stunning centerpieces for their celebrations. Observing the meticulously decorated trees is a visual treat that captures the essence of the season.


Apart from stars, lights, and Christmas trees, Kolkata showcases its artistic side through various themed installations and decorations. Public parks and gardens feature life-sized nativity scenes or cribs, depicting the birth of Jesus along with the shepherds, angels, and the Three Wise Men. These beautiful displays serve as reminders of the true meaning of Christmas and add a touch of spirituality to the festivities.


Moreover, city landmarks and prominent buildings are often adorned with beautifully crafted wreaths, ribbons, and festive banners, adding a touch of elegance and charm. Some local communities take pride in creating intricate street decorations with themes such as Santa’s workshop, winter wonderland, or traditional Kolkata motifs. These elaborate decorations not only bring joy to the residents but also attract visitors from far and wide.


With its vibrant and creative Christmas decorations, Kolkata sets the stage for a captivating and joyous celebration. The city’s attention to detail and imaginative displays make it a top destination for those seeking a festive and enchanting experience. Whether it’s the sparkling lights, the gleaming stars, or the intricately decorated trees, the Christmas decorations in Kolkata never fail to evoke a sense of wonder and awe, making the holiday season truly special for everyone.


Churches and Christmas Services

Kolkata is home to several magnificent churches, and during Christmas, these sacred places come alive with the spirit of joy and celebration. The churches in Kolkata play a vital role in the city’s Christmas festivities, hosting special services and events that bring people together to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.


St. Paul’s Cathedral, an architectural gem in the heart of Kolkata, is one of the prominent churches where Christmas services draw a large attendance. Known for its stunning Gothic Revival architecture, the cathedral becomes a focal point for both Christians and non-Christians alike during the festive season. People gather in large numbers to attend the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, where the cathedral resonates with hymns, prayers, and a magical atmosphere.


St. John’s Church, located in the heart of the city, is another historically significant church that holds special Christmas services. The majestic church, built in the early 19th century, exudes a tranquil aura that is further enhanced during the Christmas season. The Midnight Mass at St. John’s Church is a memorable experience, with the soulful renditions of carols and the enchanting ambience created by the dimly lit candles.


Aside from these prominent churches, numerous other churches across Kolkata organize special Christmas services and events. From traditional Catholic and Protestant churches to smaller local parishes, each place of worship has its unique way of celebrating the birth of Jesus. The services include scripture readings, sermons, prayers, and choir performances that uplift spirits and fill hearts with joy.


One of the highlights of Christmas services in Kolkata is the soul-stirring renditions of carols. Choirs, both professional and amateur, come together to spread the joyous Christmas spirit through their melodious singing. The familiar tunes of classic carols like “Silent Night” and “O Holy Night” fill the air, creating a serene and sacred atmosphere. These carol services unite the congregation in celebration, reminding everyone of the true essence of Christmas.


In recent years, there has been an increasing trend of churches organizing outdoor services and processions during Christmas. The streets surrounding the churches are filled with believers holding candles, joyfully singing carols, and sharing the message of love and peace. These processions create a sense of unity and community, as people from different backgrounds come together to foster goodwill and harmony.


Attending Christmas services in Kolkata offers a unique opportunity to experience the city’s rich cultural heritage, religious devotion, and sense of community. The churches not only serve as places of worship but also as beacons of hope and love during the Christmas season. The combination of sacred rituals, uplifting music, and a welcoming atmosphere make the Christmas services in Kolkata an unforgettable experience for all who participate.


Christmas Markets and Shopping

During the Christmas season, Kolkata comes alive with bustling markets and shopping destinations that offer a wide array of festive delights. From unique handicrafts to delectable treats, these markets provide the perfect opportunity to shop for gifts, decorations, and traditional Christmas goodies.


One of the most popular destinations for Christmas shopping in Kolkata is Park Street. This iconic street is known for its vibrant atmosphere and is adorned with lights and decorations during the festive season. Park Street transforms into a shopper’s paradise, with shops and stalls selling everything from Christmas ornaments and decorations to clothing and accessories. Visitors can stroll along the street, soaking in the festive ambiance while shopping for their loved ones.


Apart from Park Street, New Market is another must-visit place for Christmas shopping in Kolkata. Known as Hogg Market, it is one of the oldest and busiest shopping destinations in the city. The market is decorated with colorful lights and banners, creating a festive atmosphere. Here, shoppers can find a plethora of options, including garments, accessories, toys, and gift items. During Christmas, the market is filled with vendors selling unique Christmas-themed decorations and handicrafts.


For those looking for a more upscale shopping experience, malls in Kolkata decorate their premises and offer a fantastic selection of Christmas-themed merchandise. Quest Mall, South City Mall, and City Centre are some of the popular malls that go all out in creating a festive ambiance. These malls feature beautifully decorated Christmas trees, ornamented displays, and special promotions on products. Shoppers can explore an extensive range of brands, enjoy festive discounts, and indulge in delicious food and beverages.


The Christmas markets in Kolkata also offer a wide variety of delectable treats and delicacies. Sweet shops and bakeries showcase an assortment of traditional Christmas goodies like plum cakes, fruitcakes, gingerbread cookies, and marzipan. Street vendors sell mouthwatering snacks such as roasted nuts, candies, and other savory delights. The aroma of delicious food fills the air, tempting visitors to savor the flavors of Christmas.


Apart from the shopping extravaganza, Christmas markets in Kolkata often host various entertainment activities and cultural performances. Live music shows, dance performances, and even appearances by Santa Claus himself add to the festive atmosphere, delighting visitors of all ages. The markets become a hub of festivities, where families and friends gather to enjoy the celebrations and create lasting memories.


The Christmas markets and shopping destinations in Kolkata truly embody the essence of the holiday season. They provide a platform for people to explore unique products, shop for gifts, indulge in delicious treats, and experience the joy of the festive season. Whether you’re looking for traditional decorations, handmade crafts, or mouthwatering delicacies, Kolkata’s Christmas markets offer an enchanting shopping experience that will leave you feeling merry and bright.


Christmas Food and Delicacies

Christmas in Kolkata is not just about decorations and festivities; it is also a time to indulge in mouthwatering food and delicacies that are synonymous with the festive season. From traditional sweets to delectable savories, the city offers a wide array of culinary delights that add to the joyous celebration of Christmas.


One of the most beloved Christmas treats in Kolkata is the rich and flavorful fruitcake. Made with a combination of soaked dried fruits, nuts, spices, and a generous splash of rum or brandy, fruitcakes are a must-have during the holiday season. Kolkata’s renowned bakeries and confectioneries showcase their craftsmanship by baking these delightful cakes, with each bite bursting with festive flavor.


Another Christmas favorite in Kolkata is the delectable plum cake. Loaded with dried fruits, nuts, and often soaked in alcohol, plum cakes are a delightful combination of sweetness and richness. Local bakeries and home kitchens alike offer their own variations of this delicious cake, ensuring there’s a perfect plum cake for every palate.


Apart from cakes, Kolkata boasts a wide range of sweetmeats and desserts that are traditionally enjoyed during Christmas. Sandesh, a popular Bengali sweet made from fresh cottage cheese and flavored with fruits and aromatic spices, takes on a festive twist during this time. Special varieties like mango sandesh, strawberry sandesh, and even chocolate sandesh are created to tantalize the taste buds.


Kolkata’s street food scene also comes alive during Christmas, with vendors offering a variety of savory treats. Puchkas (pani puri), bhel puri, and papdi chaat are just some of the popular snacks that locals and visitors savor while strolling through the bustling streets. The savory and tangy flavors of these street foods provide a balance to the sweet indulgences of the season.


Along with cakes and sweets, traditional Christmas savories also have a special place on the dining table. Kolkata’s famous bakeries prepare a range of savory delights like chicken patties, vegetable puffs, and sausage rolls. These treats are enjoyed as snacks during Christmas gatherings and make for great accompaniments to a warm cup of tea or coffee.


Christmas in Kolkata is also an opportunity to try traditional Anglo-Indian dishes that are cherished during this time. Roast turkey, stuffed with flavorful fillings and served with rich gravy, is a popular centerpiece for Christmas feasts. Dishes like chicken a la Kiev, beef stew, and crumbed fish fillets are also relished by those seeking a taste of the Anglo-Indian culinary heritage.


The Christmas food and delicacies in Kolkata showcase the city’s love for both traditional and innovative flavors. The wide range of cakes, sweets, and savory snacks embody the spirit of togetherness and indulgence that is synonymous with the holiday season. Whether it’s enjoying a slice of fruitcake or savoring the flavors of traditional Bengali sweets, Kolkata’s Christmas food offerings are sure to delight food enthusiasts and leave a lasting impression of festive joy.


Carol Singing and Musical Performances

One of the most cherished traditions during Christmas in Kolkata is the enchanting sound of carol singing and the vibrant musical performances that fill the air with joy and festive cheer. The city resonates with the melodious voices of choirs and the harmonious notes of instruments, creating a magical atmosphere that captures the true spirit of the season.


Carol singing holds a special place in the hearts of Kolkata’s residents, with both professional and amateur choirs coming together to spread the joy of Christmas. Churches, community centers, and even residential neighborhoods organize carol singing events, where groups of singers go from door to door, singing traditional Christmas hymns and carols. This heartwarming tradition brings people together and creates a sense of community and togetherness.


The mesmerizing sound of carol singing can be heard in various locations across the city. Streets, parks, shopping malls, and even the bustling marketplaces are filled with the harmonious tunes of carols during the Christmas season. Whether it’s the classic carols like “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World” or the lively renditions of modern Christmas songs, the soulful voices of the singers uplift spirits and spread festive cheer to everyone who listens.


Kolkata has a vibrant music scene, and during Christmas, this talent shines through in the form of musical performances. Concerts and live shows are organized by choirs, bands, and individual performers, offering a range of genres and styles. From classical choir performances to contemporary adaptations, the musical performances capture the essence of the season and showcase the city’s rich cultural heritage.


The iconic churches of Kolkata, such as St. Paul’s Cathedral and St. John’s Church, host special musical events and performances during Christmas. These concerts feature talented musicians, choirs, and vocalists, presenting a blend of traditional carols and festive compositions. The majestic architecture and acoustics of the churches enhance the musical experience, creating an ambiance that is both uplifting and awe-inspiring.


Apart from the churches, various cultural centers, auditoriums, and even open-air stages become venues for Christmas musical performances. Local bands, schools, and professional artists come together to showcase their musical talents, creating a captivating and diverse range of performances. These events attract music lovers from all walks of life, who come to appreciate the talent and immerse themselves in the joyous melodies.


Kolkata’s love for music and the arts is evident in the numerous choirs and music schools that nurture and showcase young talent. During Christmas, these young performers get the opportunity to shine through competitions and special events organized by the cultural institutions. This showcases the city’s commitment to nurturing talent and ensuring that the tradition of carol singing and musical performances continues to thrive.


The beauty of carol singing and musical performances during Christmas in Kolkata lies not only in the talent and skill showcased but also in the way it brings people together. From the soloist’s heartfelt rendition to the joyous voices of a choir, music has the power to connect, uplift, and spread happiness. The carol singing and musical performances in Kolkata during Christmas truly embody this spirit, creating an atmosphere of warmth, love, and celebration.


Cultural Events and Festivities

Christmas in Kolkata is not just a celebration of religious significance; it is also an opportunity to showcase the city’s rich cultural heritage through a myriad of events and festivities. The city comes alive with vibrant cultural performances, traditional dances, art exhibitions, and much more, adding an extra layer of excitement to the holiday season.


One of the highlights of the cultural events during Christmas in Kolkata is the staging of plays and musical dramas. The city’s theater groups present captivating performances that retell the story of the birth of Christ, bringing the biblical narrative to life on stage. These theatrical productions incorporate elements of music, dance, and visual storytelling, captivating audiences with their artistic interpretation of the Christmas story.


Art exhibitions celebrating the spirit of Christmas are also a common sight in Kolkata during the festive season. Local artists showcase their works, depicting scenes from the nativity, winter landscapes, and other festive-themed artworks. These exhibitions provide an opportunity for art enthusiasts to admire and purchase unique pieces that evoke the beauty and symbolism of Christmas.


Kolkata’s love for music and dance is evident in the various cultural events that take place during Christmas. From traditional dance performances like Odissi, Kathak, and Manipuri to modern dance styles, artists showcase their talent at concerts and cultural festivals. These performances infuse the festive atmosphere with energy and grace, captivating audiences and showcasing the vibrant cultural diversity of the city.


The city’s cultural hubs and heritage sites also organize special events and festivities during Christmas. The Indian Museum, Victoria Memorial, and Rabindra Sadan are just a few of the places that host cultural programs, performances, and exhibitions. These events give locals and tourists an opportunity to immerse themselves in Kolkata’s cultural tapestry while celebrating the holiday season.


In recent years, Christmas parades and processions have become an essential part of the cultural festivities in Kolkata. Colorfully decorated floats adorned with Christmas themes, music, and dancers make their way through the streets, captivating onlookers. These parades not only showcase the creativity of the participants but also serve as a platform for cultural exchange and celebration, as people from different communities join in the festivities.


Kolkata’s renowned heritage clubs and cultural organizations play a crucial role in organizing cultural events and festivities during Christmas. They host grand celebrations, including music concerts, dance performances, and fashion shows, which highlight the city’s creative talent and cultural diversity. These events create an opportunity for people to come together, appreciate the arts, and celebrate the holiday season in true Kolkata style.


The cultural events and festivities during Christmas in Kolkata are a testament to the city’s vibrant cultural scene and its ability to showcase its rich heritage. They provide a platform for artists, performers, and artisans to come together and share their talent with the community, creating a sense of unity and celebration. From theater performances and art exhibitions to music concerts and dance recitals, these cultural events add a touch of magic and enchantment to the Christmas season in the City of Joy.


Charity and Social Initiatives

Christmas in Kolkata has a strong emphasis on giving back to the community and showing compassion towards those in need. Numerous charity and social initiatives are undertaken during the festive season, reflecting the spirit of love, generosity, and solidarity that Christmas embodies.


One of the major charitable activities during Christmas is the distribution of food and necessities to the less fortunate. NGOs, charitable organizations, and even individual volunteers come together to organize soup kitchens, food drives, and distribution programs. Warm meals, food packages, and essential supplies are provided to the underprivileged and homeless, ensuring that everyone can enjoy a wholesome meal during the festivities.


Kolkata’s charitable organizations also extend their support by organizing clothing drives and winter aid programs. Warm clothes, blankets, and other winter essentials are collected and distributed to those living in slums, orphanages, and shelter homes. These initiatives aim to alleviate the hardships faced by the vulnerable sections of society, ensuring that they are kept warm and comfortable during the winter season.


Christmas is a time for joy and celebration, and many organizations in Kolkata understand the importance of spreading happiness to children. They organize toy drives, gift distribution programs, and festive events for underprivileged children. These initiatives bring smiles to the faces of children who may not have the means to celebrate Christmas, providing them with toys, clothes, and the opportunity to experience the magic of the season.


In addition to material support, Kolkata also witnesses a myriad of social initiatives aimed at creating awareness and fostering positivity. Workshops and seminars on tolerance, inclusivity, and social harmony are organized to promote understanding and bridge cultural divides. These initiatives aim to encourage unity and acceptance, emphasizing the message of Christmas in creating a compassionate and harmonious society.


Christmas in Kolkata also serves as a platform to raise funds for various charitable causes. Concerts, talent shows, and charity balls are organized to generate funds for education, healthcare, and other social welfare programs. The proceeds from these events are directed towards initiatives that aim to improve the lives of the underprivileged, bringing positive change and hope to those in need.


The corporate sector in Kolkata also actively participates in charity initiatives during Christmas. Many companies organize employee-driven donation drives, fundraisers, and volunteer programs. These initiatives not only make a difference in the lives of the beneficiaries but also foster a sense of social responsibility among employees, creating an environment that promotes giving back to the community.


The charity and social initiatives during Christmas in Kolkata embody the true spirit of the season – spreading love, compassion, and goodwill towards others. The focus on helping the less fortunate and promoting social harmony reflects the city’s commitment to building a more inclusive and caring society. The collective efforts of individuals, organizations, and corporations contribute to making Christmas in Kolkata a time of joy, not just for oneself but for the entire community.



Christmas in Kolkata is a truly magical and joyful time of the year. The city’s rich cultural heritage, inclusive spirit, and vibrant festivities make it a remarkable destination to celebrate the birth of Jesus and embrace the holiday season. Throughout Kolkata, the history of Christmas is woven into its colonial past, blending British traditions with the vibrant Bengali culture. The city’s churches become beacons of celebration and faith, hosting heartfelt services and enchanting carol singing. The streets of Kolkata come alive with dazzling decorations, including stars, fairy lights, and beautifully adorned Christmas trees. Christmas markets and shopping destinations entice visitors with their array of delightful decorations, unique handicrafts, and mouthwatering treats. From fruitcakes and plum cakes to traditional Bengali sweets, the culinary delights of Christmas in Kolkata are sure to tempt the taste buds. The city offers a plethora of cultural events, including plays, art exhibitions, and musical performances, showcasing its diverse artistic talent. Moreover, Kolkata’s commitment to charity and social initiatives shines during Christmas. The city magnifies the true meaning of the season through food distribution, clothing drives, and various programs that extend care and support to the underprivileged. These acts of kindness and compassion embody the spirit of Christmas, spreading hope and bringing joy to those in need. In conclusion, celebrating Christmas in Kolkata is an immersive experience that engages all the senses. The city’s vibrant traditions, cultural events, delicious delicacies, and philanthropic initiatives create an atmosphere of warmth, love, and togetherness. Here, people from all walks of life come together to celebrate the festive season, embracing the values of compassion, generosity, and unity. Whether you are a resident or a visitor, experiencing Christmas in Kolkata offers a unique and unforgettable journey filled with joy, spirituality, and cultural immersion.