Christmas in Madeira

Christmas in Madeira is a special time, marked by Catholic traditions. Home decorations include Christmas trees and nativity scenes, the latter of which are real works of art visited in the different regions of the island. The “Missas do Parto” and the “Missa do Galo” have a religious and folkloric aspect. Market Night, a tradition since the 19th century, takes place in Funchal, but this year it will be restricted due to the pandemic. The Christmas lighting in Funchal is highlighted, with the novelty of augmented reality. The fireworks display on New Year’s Eve is recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest in the world. The gastronomy highlights meat from the garlic vineyard, canja, poncha, homemade liqueurs and sweets such as honey cake.

In Madeiran homes, Christmas is marked by the common presence of the nativity scene and the Christmas tree. The traditional tree, once natural, is now artificial and decorated. Nativity scenes, whether in wooden or cardboard structures, are proudly displayed in the churches and squares of Madeira’s regions, representing local landscapes and customs.

In December, the “Missas do Parto” (Childbirth Masses) in the early hours of the 16th to 24th stand out, with a religious emphasis and a folkloric atmosphere, followed by social gatherings. At midnight on the 24th, there is the Mass of the Rooster, linked to the tradition of the rooster that announced the birth of Jesus. Market Night, on December 23, originated in the 19th century and involves shopping for Christmas products. The Christmas lighting in Funchal stands out, including augmented reality for visitor interaction.


The New Year’s Eve show in Madeira is recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest pyrotechnic show in the world. Thousands of locals and tourists flock to Funchal’s seafront and viewpoints to witness this explosion of light and color. Cruise ships in the harbor provide incredible views. This year, the event will follow health precautions and remain one of the biggest attractions of the Christmas season in Madeira.

Madeira’s gastronomy during the “Festa” includes “carne de vinha-d’alhos”, made with pork marinated in white wine, vinegar, garlic and bay leaf, served in sandwiches or bolo do caco. Chicken soup in small bowls is also traditional. To accompany meals, the famous “poncha” and homemade liqueurs made from regional fruit are enjoyed. As far as sweets are concerned, the honey cake and broas, both made with Madeiran cane honey, are unmissable.


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