The sun isn’t up yet, but the churchyards are already full of people. The traditional Christmas choir music can be heard and you can smell the sweetness of the hot chocolate and the delicious pork sandwiches. At around 5 in the morning, the churches were full of people waiting for the first of the Childbirth Masses. .. it’s time to start celebrating Christmas in Madeira !!
Today was the first of a total of nine Childbirth Masses, celebrated until the 24th of December. It’s a tradition of great meaning which symbolizes the beginning of Christmas celebrations in Madeira.
These masses celebrate the pregnancy of the Virgin Mary, and each mass represents one month of the pregnancy. They occur before the Missa do Galo, a special mass dedicated to the commemoration of the birth of Jesus. The Childbirth Masses occur every day between 5 and 7 in the morning, when the night is changing into day, to symbolize the fact that Baby Jesus is the light that is born into this world.
It may be cold and early, but that doesn’t deter the crowds. .. the masses are full of choir music, and in the end of the religious ritual, the churchyards become places of community and sharing !! There is coffee and hot chocolate, homemade liquors and of course the traditional poncha from Madeira !! There are even honey and coconut biscuits (broas) and pork sandwiches (vinha d’alhos) which are traditional delicacies of this region, resulting in a typical menu accompanied by melodic singing by various choirs that gather in the churchyards.
If you’re staying with us at Porto Santa Maria hotel, you can experience this tradition on the 21st, or if you’re staying at Vila Porto Mare resort, on the 22nd of December. Be a part of this amazing tradition from Madeira !!