By Our Special Correspondent

THERE is so much to Christmas in Goa! Except that it’s a very warm Christmas season in Goa this December. Ever since Bethleham officially announced that they are not celebrating the birth of Lord Jesus Christ this year due to the Israeli-Palestine war in which over 4,000 children have been killed you might think the rest of the world would take a cue.
At least sober up any Christmas celebration this year but then as they say in the show business the show must go on, we must celebrate Christmas this year hoping for a happier 2024. Christmas or no Christmas quite simply people have a living to earn…and at the same time remember the life and times of Jesus Christ who founded Christianity based on the principles of love and justice.
Christians in Goa still celebrate Christmas in their homes with family members from near and far. This is the one time when Goans abroad come home to Goa where they have family and the usual mesmerising array of sweets so distinctively Goan are prepared along with the festive dishes of a Christmas lunch or dinner.
A lot of shopping does happen and hence the various Christmas sales in Panjim and down south Goa in Margao. Goa boasts of many confectionary outlets and family caterers too put out their list of quintessentially Christmas-times sweets for the traditional “consoada” (the word in the original Latin actually means a small meal that is taken at the end of a day’s fasting to comfort those who believe in the righteousness of their faith, but in Goa the Anglo-Indian community also have a “consoad” tray of such traditional goodies as bolcoke, marzipan, rose cookies, kulkuls and more which is given to newly married couples, family and extended family and friends).
Say it is just the season for giving if not with homemade goodies, with the same goodies purchased at the various Christmas sales which take place the week preceding Christmas. With scattered families at home and abroad it is oftentimes easier to buy many of the perfectly good offerings of Christmas sweets and savouries from caterers old and new.
Goa also boasts of innumerable time-tested bakeries and confectionary or just cake shops. Children look forward to…it’s quite a roll-call of Christmas treats! Take your pick from the familiar slabs of bebinca, much loved golden gram doce, coconut rava cookies of bolinhas, crunchy neuros or kormola and kulkul, there’re the rose cookies, tender coconut candy of ghons, the mysterious dark dodol and a favourite perada soft or slightly chewy (that’s guava cheese), dodol (darkly sweet), caju or almond marzipan everyone loves…then there are the bejewelled jujubes! Piece de resistance of course: fruit cakes and plum cakes and plum pudding and snowy Christmas cake stuffed with all things good including (in the old days silver trinkets for the children to rejoice over).

IN Panaji the Magsons stores are packed with Christmas goodies along with the finery of decorations, you will find most every Christmas celebration desirables here; also drop in at the various cake shops – Confeitaria 31 De Janeiro is our favourite, followed by Truffles and Padaria Prazeres, there’s also Pastry Cottage and Carasid and Mr Baker’s. Not to forget the Fidalgo Hotel’s Aunty Maria cafetaria where there’s plum cake, sweet breads and pastries. Most places plum cakes are priced Rs400 to Rs650 per half kg, but look for those which don’t cheat with tutti frutti (in our view plum cake should be packed with plums, black raisins, currants and not the hard tutti frutti which is nothing but candied, colored green papaya).
We notice that Truffles at Caranzalen have put out eclairs/profitroles, it’s the only cake shop displaying its prices upfront so may decide screen and decide one’s purchases. The cakes are superlatively good. There are also the five-star confectionary outlets worth visiting for breads like the German-styled sweet bread stollen and some more. New cake and pastry shops are always opening up, check out Sanofe near the GMC!
This is to wish you a holy and hopeful Christmas for next year. This year has been a wash out given the merciless Israel-Palestine conflict which continues and has come to a critical crossroads. Are we returning to the religious wars of the medieval ages in Europe anew? Except that today we have the nuclear button. Something to think about.

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