I will never forget my first Christmas on Madeira. On that evening I have met a beautiful and very elegant lady. She had an exquisite gala dress. An evening dress that was embroidered with millions of colored pearls that all lit-up in the dark. The lady her name was … Funchal.
Funchal starts wearing her gown at beginning of the month December. When the evening makes its entrance then the lady’s dress starts to shine … so intense … that both the moon and stars are just blushing of shame.
It is a spectacular view to watch at night. You can put away your tourist-map of Funchal, and just follow the lights …. because the city itself offers you a road map through the strings of lights. The streets together with the buildings, churches and bridges, … they all sparkle like jewels on a black velvet cloth.
In the Netherlands (and other European countries) most of the people enjoy their Christmas days at home, in front of the fireplace, … cozy and warm, with their hot drinks, and some Christmas music playing in the background.
Here on Madeira we also have that similar experience … except it takes place outside the door. When you wander through the magical streets of Funchal, you will notice that the whole city has turned into one big nativity scenery, … hearing the various songs and music that are announcing the arrival of Natal. The city becomes a giant amphitheater of lights during the days of December. Also other towns and villages around the island take same approach to enchant people with lights, colors and warmth.
And wait! … afterward there will be no time to recover from these Christmas day’s …. because the magic will continue. Feasts, parties and events are then taking place in hotels, restaurants, bars and even on the streets. Just wander through the lighted streets you will surely be swept into some festivity.
And then there is the New Year’s Eve …
A lot has been said about the Revellion – New Year’s Eve on Madeira … which even got an award in the Guinness World Record. But I will summarize it for you in just one word: … spectacular!
In the Netherlands (where I come from) for example … people spend millions of euros each year buying fireworks. A common household spends about 150 euros on firework …. and just to see it all that value in money explode in just a few minutes on their own backyard.
Here on Madeira fireworks are sold but only a few spend that kind of money. Maybe a few sparkling stars and rockets, but most people here spend their money on food, wine and new clothes instead. Because on New Years Eve you invite your family and friends to celebrate together the birth of the new year. Majority of the Madeiran population go to Funchal, finding a nice spot with a view over the city … and everybody waits for the stroke of midnight. At which another magical moment will start. The stars in the sky will then disappear for about 10-15 minutes. They will be replaced by million of lights and colors … as if the jewels of evening dress, that I mentioned before, decide to rocket all into the sky. The lady strips down to fire up the sky, sending all its jewels …. bursting into a myriad of colors. The churches and cruise ships eagerly will welcome this striptease show with bells and sirens … culminating in the spectacular firework display. People will be cheering, hugging each other, toasting on the arrival of the New Year and wishing everyone all the good things in life to one and another.
After this there are still a few days more to feast ….
All the December celebrations are finally brought to a close on Epiphany (6th of January). The lights are then extinguished and Funchal takes down her with lights embroidered evening dress … and put it away for the next party.