Macau has felt at home in a fusion of Eastern and Western traditions since the Portuguese first settled in Macau in 1557. Now, in 2020, Macau invites all Christians and non-Christians alike to join in a colorful yet deeply meaningful celebration of Christmas.
PUBLISHED ONJan 2021
During Christmas week, thousands of Chinese cross the border into Macau to enjoy the festivities as celebration of Christmas is not allowed in China. On one special evening before Christmas Eve, they are greeted with Christmas carols sung by a group of parishioners from Joseph the Worker parish, which is staffed by Comboni missionaries.
Many stop to listen and record the event to share with family and friends in China. This “Caroling at the Border” is now an important Christmas time ministry of the parish.
On Christmas Eve, the Macau Diocesan Youth Center provides entertainment in Macau’s main plaza which is artfully decorated with a huge Christmas tree. The message of Christmas is presented through story, song, and ethnic dance. Thousands, many from China, hear the message and enjoy the entertainment.
Following a worldwide custom, each of the nine Macau parishes takes pride in their display of the Nativity scene. In the Joseph the Worker parish, assembling the crèche has become a parish activity.
On the first Sunday of Advent, materials needed to construct the stable are brought up to the altar as part of the offertory procession. On the second Sunday, the animals and the shepherds are offered, and on the third Sunday the three kings (a bit early) appear. On the fourth Sunday Mary and Joseph arrive and at Midnight Mass the infant Jesus. The entire Sunday congregation has followed the assembling of the parish Nativity scene.
What would Christmas be without a Christmas Fair? Local artists display their Christmas-inspired work in booths decorated for the holiday. A life-size Nativity scene overlooks the square where the Fair is held. At the other end is an imported Merry-Go-Round with toddlers lined up waiting for a ride on one of the wooden horses. Parents are there with cameras for photos that will go in the memory files.
Macau has one of the highest population densities in the world so efforts are made to provide outdoor space for people to enjoy. A stroll through any one of Macau’s beautiful parks and gardens will reveal a masterpiece of floral design. At Christmas, thousands of brilliant red poinsettias are interspersed with white plants. One could sit for hours and just imbibe the sheer beauty of Nature. Welcome to Christmas in Macau.