ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

An Enchanting Christmas on The Island of Madeira

Updated on December 9, 2021
Gabriel Wilson profile image

Gabriel lives with her family on the Island of Madeira, where a warm climate provides the perfect environment to enjoy the outdoor life.

A Nativity Scene in The Centre of Funchal

Pictures of Funchal, Madeira at Christmas
Pictures of Funchal, Madeira at Christmas | Source

Christmas Traditions

Nativity scences are a huge part of celebrating Christmas on the Portuguese Island of Madeira. Great efforts, beginning weeks before the month of December - are carefully built to create amazing life-size nativity scences.

Each village will have a nativity scene centered around the heart of the community, The Church. Every family will build a lavish nativity scene in their home complete with little houses, real living moss, farm animals and human figurines. The nativity scenes will often incoorperate impressive water features: streams, wells, ponds with running water and meandering tracks made from sand or tiny pebbles picked from the beach. Snow capped mountain peaks and delicate little trees with areas of live foliage gathered from the mountains is very typical. It is usual that the older generation in each household whom build the scene - sometimes taking days to perfect the display.

Funchal the capital city boosts the King and Queen of all nativity scenes. The life size characters are so real, you'd almost expect them to speak. The images are imposing and demand attention: The three wise men and their camels, The little donkey. The heavenly angel. Mary, Joseph and of course the baby Jesus. The figurines are beautifully made and great care and precision are taken in arranging all the numerous details. The nativity scene is traditionally built using real materials and live moss, plants, small trees and flowers. A big effort is made in producing the nativity set. The deliverance is amazingly lifelike and rather awe-inspiring. It is rather difficult not to feel moved and be very much involved in The Spirit of Christmas.

Each year the scene is displayed in a different layout in a different location of the city. Lavish arrangements of fresh flowers adorn the display, real cloth is used to dress the figurines and fresh straw lines the manger.

In another part of the city another scence can be found: a village with tiny houses, amazingly life like complete with little chimneys, a village church, village figuerines and farming animals, a running stream, a village well, a windmill, forestry, and manicured lawns. The mountainous landscape is typical of Madeira. The craftsmanship is to be applauded.

The festive season is alive and thriving with the true meaning of The Christmas Spirit all around the island. There is an imminent air of expectation. It is truly joyful to participate and embrace the sheer scale of what Christmas means to the Madeiran people and how much they want to share it.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Life Size Camels Life Size Figurines Life Size Donkey
Life Size Camels
Life Size Camels | Source
Life Size Figurines
Life Size Figurines | Source
Life Size Donkey
Life Size Donkey | Source

A Mountain Village Nativity Scence

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Source
Source
Source

Christmas Cabins Sell Traditional Wares

Dotted around the main streets of the city of Funchal you will be delighted to find intriguing log cabins selling their homemade wares to the eager Christmas shoppers. The timber roofs are covered in leafy branches creating a lush forest feeling. The traders are all dressed up in the old traditional style of Madeiran clothing.

The cobbled streets are a-buzz with the wonder of Christmas. Beautiful flowers typical of the festive season create colourful displays of blues, yellows, pinks and reds. Green fern and deep red poinsettias fill hanging baskets, adorn flower pots and line the pavements. The festivities are well on their way and the city is throughly blooming.

A selection of Madeira wines, cherry liquors and the traditional winter warmer - 'poncha' (a mix of sugar cane rum, fresh lemon juice, fresh orange juice, and honey) are among the many tipples on offer. The sweet aromas of fresh bread, hot suggared donuts, bolo de mel (a sweet dark cake topped with nuts) fill the air. Cauldrons of simmering pork typicaly cooked in white wine and garlic (served in fresh rolls) waft through the streets. Swirling grey smoke signals delicious hot roasted chestnuts. The city is an explosion of sensory smells.

One cabin nestled among the stalls has an impressive selection of madeiran boots, the boots are handmade. Next door another cabin sells woolly hats with ear covers, idela for mountain walking. Both are still worn today by the mountain folk in the colder winter months.


Click thumbnail to view full-size
Flower HutBoozy HutPoncha HutTraditional Shoes
Flower Hut
Flower Hut | Source
Boozy Hut
Boozy Hut | Source
Poncha Hut
Poncha Hut | Source
Traditional Shoes
Traditional Shoes | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Pretty PoinsettiasChristmas FlowersReindeersA Huge SantaSnowmenFun Train
Pretty Poinsettias
Pretty Poinsettias | Source
Christmas Flowers
Christmas Flowers | Source
Reindeers
Reindeers | Source
A Huge Santa
A Huge Santa | Source
Snowmen
Snowmen | Source
Fun Train
Fun Train | Source

The 24-Hour Christmas Market

A meander along the cobbled streets will introduce you to numerous flower, fruit and vegetable vendors. Their wonderful stalls brimming with fresh produce, perfect for Christmas day. The local vendors are full of the Christmas spirit and relish in the market festivity. Christmas wishes are expressed with warm smiles and friendly greetings.

The twenty-four hour market begins on the morning of the 23rd of December and continues in a bustle of excitement through the night. This fabulous fun event takes place every year and is a wonderful experience to share with loved ones. Strolling through the colourful streets, ablaze with Christmas lights and huge glowing baubles is a fabulous experience - a festive fairy tale. The streets are merry with laughter and Christmas cheer is alive and thriving. Musicians play at every street corner. Local carol singers gather in the square to entertain the crowds through the evening hours. People come in their droves to sample tasty foods, sip a drink or two and purchase their fresh fruit and vegetables for Christmas eve and Christmas day. The city is a bubbly of joy.

Snow men of different sizes line the city gardens and the biggest Santa Claus you have ever seen stands by his huge Christmas trunk. Giant colourful wrapped gift boxes surround him. Reindeer's pull a snow sledge full of brightly coloured Santa sacks. Gifts for all the good girls and all the good boys hidden inside, waiting to be delivered for Christmas.

Did I already say Intriguing? Fabulous? Delightful? In case I didn't, I'll say it again - Intriguing! Fabulous! Delightful! Oh! and - Wonderful! Exciting! and Magical!

© 2010 Gabriel Wilson

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://corp.maven.io/privacy-policy

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)