Christmas in Madeira Island has a special charm that for Madeirans is simply like no other. The “Feast Day” is related in every sense of the word to the island traditions.
People from Madeira usually use the expressions “for the Feast”, “the pork for the Feast”, “the Feast month”, “after the Feast”, taking as reference the date adopted for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.
It’s a season full of traditions, stemming from the ethnography and folklore of the island, revealing the “historical” side of the Madeiran soul. Even today, these traditions perpetuate themselves through time!
Here are some of the Christmas traditions in Madeira Island, although the ideal thing is to see with your own eyes how wonderful it is to be here at this time of year.
Christmas lights switch-on takes place on December 1st, in Funchal.
Thousands of lights glow on Christmas displays in the streets, buildings, gardens and mountains of this beautiful island.
Be amazed by the creativity, harmony and vibrant colours of this attraction in Madeira. Here are some images to light up your curiosity.
There are many religious customs associated with this season in Madeira. Tradition says that families should build a nativity scene to celebrate the birth of Jesus, on Christmas Eve.
The madeiran “lapinha” features Jesus Child standing at the top of a few steps, decorated with fruits, such as tangerines.
You’ll find different nativity scenes, inspired by the tradition and devotion of Madeiran. Be sure to visit and photograph your favourite ones, not only at Avenida Arriaga, in Funchal, but also in other areas of the Island.
Masses of childbirth and Midnight Mass
Masses of childbirth are one of the most remarkable events of Madeiran Christmas. From the 16th to the 24th of December, 9 masses of childbirth are celebrated, representing the 9 months of pregnancy of Virgin Mary.
These masses occur at dawn, accompanied by songs of devotion and praise to Virgin Mary.
They remain as a symbol of union with the local community. Once the mass ends, celebration continues in the churchyard with christmas songs, food and drinks.
Christmas Mass is celebrated on December 24, at midnight. Inside local churches, vows of hope and peace are renewed, with the birth of Jesus.
After the mass, families and friends gather in private homes or hotels to celebrate this special evening and exchange Christmas gifts.