How we celebrated Christmas in the Seventies…

How we celebrated Christmas in the Seventies in Sri Lanka was a whole lot different as to what it is today.

It was still an old fashioned Christmas with red cement floors polished to gleam and shine. It was a nostalgic Christmas with Christmas cake made with love and care.

The ingredients for the cake were bought , along with the Christmas gifts from the Main Street Fort.

The Main Street in Fort bustles with shoppers even now – Christmas in the Seventies saw crowds throng there, eager to buy Christmas gifts and everything else that was needed to celebrate.

Walking along the decorated street also meant checking out the street vendors with their Christmas decorations and a million of other small items for sale.

It was an experience worth savouring.

The Christmas shopping trip started at the top of the Main Street, at the Khan Clock Tower – it would slowly wind down the heavily congested street – with pauses for short eats and iced coffee and later in the day, a biriyani feast at Pilawoos once the shopping is done.

The biriyani used to come packed into a saucer, with the boiled egg in the centre.

The shopping trip entailed a must-visit stops – there were the saree shops, the homeware shops and everything else in between.

Back home, the rush was to get the cake ingredients cut and sorted. Curtains were sent to the cleaners or replaced with new ones.

The seasonal rush, the feeling of unmistakable celebrations stayed with you – you could close your eyes and hear the Family Requests on SLBC, Christmas music wafting through the air, the smell of fresh red polish on the floor and the fragrance of cake baking in the oven.

Not everyone had ovens. Some baked their own while others gave their cakes to the baker down the street for baking.

The Christmas meals were special – the chicken had to be bought fresh, the pork marinaded and the freshest eggs chosen.

The best part of childhood was decorating the tree. The trinkets were not very sophisticated but still, enthralling to every child’s eyes.

The trees were usually bought on the road or store bought. Lovingly set up in the living room, the children would gather around to decorate it while carols serenaded everyone involved.

Christmas music was special too. There were carols being sung as they went on their rounds, the soothing music of the Season reminding you of the Birth of The Saviour.

The new clothes had to be made – very few were bought at the time – which meant you had to start early on, buying the cloth, choosing the pattern etc. The sewing ladies were kept busy and usually had many pattern books from which the customers chose designs that were considered trendy at the time.

Christmas of the Seventies remain special in the minds of those of us who grew up during the Seventies – we had no technology as do the kids of today but we had fun.

We had the warmth and joy of celebrating together, simple pleasures of life that were marked by fellowship and camaraderie.



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