The majority of Sri Lankans are Hindus and Buddhists, and about 7 percent of the population is Christian. Nevertheless, Christmas in Sri Lanka is celebrated with great enthusiasm and festivity. Christmas is celebrated by Christians in Sri Lanka (both Catholic and other denominations) to mark the birth of Jesus Christ centuries ago in Bethlehem. With millions of Christians around the world, Sri Lankans are entering December with anticipation and joy. Because with this festival, family and friends get together and create a good happy atmosphere. It is said that the first celebration of this festival was introduced to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese who ruled Sri Lanka from 1505-1650, the Dutch who ruled from 1658-1796, and the British who ruled from 1815-1948.
Preparations for this great day begin a few weeks earlier, as in other countries. Every Christian or Catholic home wakes up on the first day of December to perform the first ritual of the fun month. It is celebrated by Christians and even non-Christians share the true Sri Lankan style. Homes are cleaned and painted, new clothes are bought or sewn and decorations are hung. Many Buddhist homes, especially those with children, join in the festivities by decorating a Christmas tree and lighting lamps. Santa Claus is an important part of Sri Lanka’s seasonal festivities and is found in many shopping malls and Christmas parties. Even non-Christian children have fallen in love with this funny character.
December 25th, the birthday of Jesus Christ, is a public holiday, and at midnight on December 24th, all the Cathedrals, Churches, and little Chapels around the country attend the “Midnight Mass”. After the mass, everyone goes home to share cakes and wine and exchange gifts. Churches also offer services in English, Sinhala, and Tamil on Christmas Day, and some families attend these services after Christmas breakfast. The rest of the day is spent with family and friends, enjoying delicious Christmas food and singing carols. Many non-Christians are invited to parties by their Christian friends. This too can be described as a festival that spreads peace and happiness all over the world.