Christmas in Sri Lanka - my experience - an expat Brit!

Have you ever longed to get away at Christmas and experience a special festive break on a tropical island? Then maybe spending Christmas on the beautiful paradise Island of Sri Lanka is for you. 

December is part of Sri Lanka’s peak tourist season (which is normally from mid Dec to Mid April).

Of course, Sri Lanka is genuinely a year round holiday destination and there are plenty of things to see and do outside the peak season.

The timings of the North West & South West monsoons normally determine what part of the island is best to visit during your visit

Do they celebrate Christmas in Sri Lanka?

Sri Lankan Christmas traditions began whilst under Portuguese rule in 1505 AD.

It evolved under the Dutch and British colonisation of the island into the uniquely local celebration it is today.

Christmas in Sri Lanka is a joyous event and the festive atmosphere shared by the entire country. The festive season is celebrated throughout the month of December leading up to Christmas Day on the 25th which is a public holiday. 

Although a majority of Sri Lankans follow Buddhism, Christmas is a popular religious holiday. Even those who don’t belong to the faith look eagerly towards the period when the heavy rains of November give way to balmy weather that marks the beginning of the season. 

The centre of Colombo is decorated with neon Christmas lighting similar to those found in the main high streets in Europe. Lot’s of people drive around Colombo in the early evenings experiencing the lights which are most prominent around the larger chain hotels near Galle Face Green.

The Worlds Tallest Christmas Tree

In 2016 the worlds tallest artificial Christmas Tree was built on Gale Face Green. The tree was 72.1m (236 ft 6.58 in) tall and was opened on Christmas Eve 2016.

The feat does appear on the Guinness World Records Website.

Im must admit I thought it was a little odd that Sri Lanka went for this record at the time and there was a little bit of controversy about the amount of funds spent on this enterprise in a developing country.

Firecrackers herald the start of Christmas season and shops put up Christmas decorations and trees some weeks in advance. Staff in supermarkets don Santa hats (they must be very hot in the store!).

You will also see lots of inflatable Santa Clauses, Santa Hats and other Christmas decorations on sale at even the smallest of shack.

Larger stores stock tinsel, baubles and decorations for the trees. It is a challenge to get a real Fir tree in Sri Lanka so lots of people (including us at GlenMyu Estate) go for an artificial tree. 

It’s not the best however as we want to plant trees rather than cut them down at GlenMyu Estate we feel that it is a compromise worth undertaking.

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When did Christianity come to Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka is a multiethnic and multi-religious country. Christianity is a minority religion in Sri Lanka and apparently was introduced to the tropical Island in the first century. It is said that after Thomas the Apostles visit to Kerala in AD 52 Christianity was introduced to Sri Lanka due to the close geographical and commercial ties. 

As you travel around Sri Lanka you will come across many Christian churches as well as Buddhist temples, Hindu Kovils, Mosques and other religious temples.

Many tourists stay in Negombo as their first stop when they arrive in Sri Lanka’s Bandaraniake Airport. This beautiful beach resort is known as an area that is heavily dominated by the Christian Faith.

One of the towns most prominent structures is the Roman Catholic St Mary’s Church in the heart of Negombo and stands out as a landmark edifice there.

Midnight mass is held in churches, chapels and cathedrals on Christmas Eve and corporate Christmas parties and family get-togethers are held with seasonal Christmas food such as Christmas cake and the famous Yule Log. The Christmas atmosphere in Sri Lanka is truly a delightful one and the festive mood lingers in the air for weeks. Visiting Sri Lanka during Christmas will undoubtedly be an incredibly unique experience.

You can be sure that Christmas in Sri Lanka will be a most memorable one and a little bit different that you are used to, especially if you are living in Northern Europe.

Where can I spend Christmas?

All of the major chain Hotels indulge their guests with a fantastic Christmas spreads and buffets. There are carols, dancing and other seasonal activities. It will be similar to what you experience at  home but with a number of new experiences thrown in. 

Most hotels charge a compulsory Christmas and New Years’ Eve supplement.

If you look online you will see the offers that the hotels provide. Some years ago we went to the Hilton Hotel in Colombo and enjoyed a fabulous buffet which included the traditional Christmas fare alongside options for Rice & Curry, Chinese, Thai and a multitude of other offerings. 

It was enjoyable but it was hard to move after such overindulgence!

My experience of Christmas in Sri Lanka.

Originally from the UK I was used to a colder climate and spending the festive period visiting family and friends over the holidays.

My wife family is Buddhist and I remember one year getting up in the tropical heat to be wished Happy Christmas by my father in law…. and that was that!

I did feel it was a bit odd as I drove around Colombo seeing the amount of Christmas decorations on sale in a country dominated by Buddhism.

However, being able to enjoy the climate and perhaps go to the beach on Christmas Day was a new and enjoyable experience.

Having Christmas Dinner in one of the larger chain hotels was really good and there was opportunities to dance the night away to try to move those extra calories consumed at the buffet!

What happens at GlenMyu Estate over the festive season?

Since opening GlenMyu Estate in late 2021 we are newbies when it comes down to hosting guests over the Festive season. 

In our first Christmas at GlenMyu we provided two families of returning guests their first experience of Christmas which they really enjoyed. The house was tastefully decorated and Ruwanthi cooked up a sumptuous Christmas Dinner with season twists.

It is difficult and expensive to get good quality Turkey, Ham or Beef in Sri Lanka and therefore we opted for a delicious locally sourced organic chicken with all the trimmings.

A different offering in December 2022!

In 2022 we have received a lot of guests that are Vegetarian or Vegan and in order to reflect the changing tastes and requirements of our customers we will be launching a Vegan Festive Menu during December. 

We will of course be offering some chicken or fish dishes with a seasonal twist for guests alongside the Vegan/Vegetarian option

Hot but not so hot!

GlenMyu Estate is located in the Sri Lankan Hill Country and the temperature range is cooler than the coast but not as cold as Nuwara Eliya which can be pretty chilly.

The temperature during December typically ranges from a high of 73°F (23°C) and a low of 68°F (20°C). 

Lots of our guests arrive and enjoy a temporary relief from the warmer tropical climate when they stay at GlenMyu Estate.

If you want further information about Christmas or the Festive Season at GlenMyu Estate please contact Ruwanthi on WhatsApp 94-752-999-121 or email Michael at michael@glenmyuresort.com.

You can also visit our website https://resortglenmyu.com for more information about GlenMyu Estate.

Try a Christmas in Sri Lanka - an incredibly unique experience

The Christmas atmosphere in Sri Lanka is truly a delightful one and the festive mood lingers in the air for weeks.
Visiting Sri Lanka during Christmas will undoubtedly be an incredibly unique experience for you and your family so why not give it a try!

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