Our Erasmus holiday experience on Madeira – Christmas lights, fireworks, honey cake and much more
Madeira is absolutely the place to be during the Christmas Holidays - I’m thinking while walking by the ocean. This part of the year is especially important for the locals who live it with a special joyfulness.
The Regional Government and Madeiran people always take care of Christmas traditions to be shown in every town and village. The rich programme this will last for over a month. Every day is reserved for few different events such as concerts, religious, as well as other cultural and artistic manifestations that take place all over the island. Can’t be bored here. Even the bad weather Madeira archipelago had for the last couple of days didn’t affect the good mood.
The island these days seems very busy. Many flights and cruizers have arrived. That also means the gallery is quite busy. Most of our days we spend here, but we don't even wish to be different. Here feels like home. Our team became our biggest family. And this family loves to celebrate every day. :D
Walking near Funchal’s port, we are enchanted by the smell of local chestnuts, Christmas lights and music. I’ve never seen so many Christmas decorations in one city! Looks like the Christmas trees are complementing the festive atmosphere, and make up for the fact that we don’t have snow.
On the central walkway on Avenida Arriaga is also located the Christmas Market full of local food, drinks, blossoms and much more. “A must” for this period of the year are Bolo de Mel (honey cake), Bolo de Rei (king’s cake), broas (honey biscuits) and Madeiran liquors. Bolo de mel is a special Madeiran Christmas dessert with a rich tradition. Usually, it’s made on 8th of December (the date that marks the beginning of the Christmas season), and eaten only few weeks later, on Christmas day. These rainy days we like to indulge in a big piece of bolo accompanied with Ginja - Portuguese cherry liqueur. Yummy!
I’ve heard that the biggest farmers market is on December 23rd , today, in Funchal. Apparently this night became one of the trademark images of Madeiran Christmas. All the locals are excited about it, since last year’s was canceled due to the pandemic. This year we are lucky to have this event, and our international team can’t wait to check it out.
Portuguese people are known as quite religious people. With that said, Madeirans have a special religious celebration of Christmas. The Childbirth mass, which is held for 9 days and represent the nine months of pregnancy of Virgin Mary, takes place at the Sé Cathedral in Funchal.
Not only the churches and cathedrals, but almost every shopping center, restaurant and bar seems to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Walking around we see countless rock-shaped or staircase Lapinhas (nativity scenes) which offer a beautiful festive scenery.
Finally, what we are most excited about is the New Year’s firework show, which this year will last full 8 minutes. As we were informed, the firework show will be distributed from 59 different firework stations! Yes, you’ve heard right - 59! Majority of the stations will be on the island of Madeira, 5 points at the sea and 2 points on Porto Santo Island. Even though the show will be broadcasted live on RTP Madeira, I think everyone should experience it at least ones in a lifetime!
Fun fact: in 2006, Madeiran firework show was recognized as “The greatest firework show in the world” by the Guinness Book of Records. I am confident that this year will not disappoint us as well.
Arte.M team wishes you a wonderful Christmas season filled with laughter, harmony, peace, and abundance!