Christmas fall on December 25th and commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. Holy Mass is held in all churches in the State. The Christmas Tree is decorated in churches and homes. The appearance of Santa Claus and distribution of presents are highlights of the celebration. There is a feast in every Christian Home with meat as a special item.
Easter is the oldest Christian festival, as old as Christianity itself. The central tenet of Christianity is not the birth of Jesus, but his resurrection. Easter is derived from this paschal mystery and from the events of Good Friday.
The content of Easter was gradually analysed into historical events and each began to be celebrated on a different day. As a result, Easter grew into a Holy Week and came to have a preparatory season to precede and a festive season to follow. Thus we have four distinct periods in connection with the observance of Easter.
Services are held in the afternoon. In most churches one finds a bitter drink prepared from leaves, vinegar, etc. for everyone to taste after the service, Holy Saturday is a day of mourning and wailing. A total silence reigns in the church from morning to dusk. But by ten at night the church is full, to observe the Easter Vigil. In the gloom, which envelops the church, new fire is struck from flint and blessed. A big candle is then consecrated and from it is lighted many candles indicating the resurrection. Bells peal, music fills the air and light floods the hall. Halleluyah is the joyous word of Easter wish. Easter Sunday is a quiet day and the celebration is rather spiritual and inward rather than social showy. There will be a grand dinner at homes and visits of relatives.
St. Sebastian's Aruthunkal
One of the most important pilgrim centres of the Christians in Kerala, popularly known as St. Sebastian Church, 22 kms. north of Alleppey.This church was established by Portuguese missionaries, which is near Sherthallai. The feast of St. Sebastian is held here every January.
A well-known Christian pilgrim centre in Alappuzha coast . The 11-day festival of St.Sebastian is celebrated in the second week of January. To decongest the festival days, a low profile festival, Ettamperunal, is being celebrated on the 8th day after the main festival.
A peculiar votive of the church is Urulu nercha( an offering of a devotee by crawling on the ground). devotees crawl from the church premise to the local beach. Material offerings of the festival include gold and silver replicas of human limbs, bows and arrows.
The festival has also chipped in for communal amity. On January 18, two days left for the main festival, thousands of Sabarimala pilgrims, while returning home, bathe from the church tank and pay homage to St. Sebastian.
The church is one of the important pilgrim centres of the Christians in Kerala. The mortal remains of Sr. Alphonsa, who was pronounced as blessed is kept in this church.The death of blessed Sr. Alphonsa which falls on the 20th of July is an important day.
Manjinikkara church derives its importance from the holy tomb of late Ignatius Elias III, the Holy Patriarch of Antioch. Members of the Jacobite Syrian Church believe that the Holy Father was a Saint.
The Church has now become one of the foremost places of pilgrimage. A large number of pilgrims visit the church to receive spiritual and physical healing and blessings.
St. Mary's Church (Cheriya Pally)
There are paintings of Biblical and non Biblical themes. This church is situated near the Valiapally.
St. Mary's Church (Valiapally)
5kms. north-west of the railway station, this church was built in 1515. It is famous for its Persian cross and Phalvi inscriptions.
St. Francis Church, Fort Kochi
The first European church in India, which later became the model for building churches in elsewhere the country. Vasco da Gama, who died in Kochi during his second visit to Kerala, was buried in the church in 1524. later his mortal remains were taken back to his native land, Portugal.
St. George Church, Edappally, Kochi
St. George Church, Edappally, Kochi has a past that touches 593 AD. This is one of the major pilgrim centres in Kerala where even non-Christians crowd for veneration. Even during the week- days devotees throng the church to genuflect before the statue of St. George to express their gratitude for favours received through the saint. The festival begins on the 23rd of April with solemn High Mass and Litany. With each passing day divine aura is added to the festival along with colour and festivity. The parishioners join the pilgrims to take the festival gusto into its crescendo.
Mellifluent music and ear shattering fire works keep the tempo of the festival. On May Day, the St. George statue is taken out of its usual podium and pedestaled on specially decked chariot for procession which has all the features of a solemn catholic religious function.
Curtain comes down on the festival with the High Mass on 4 May which will be embedded with a soul stirring sermon.
St. Mary's Church,Vallarpadam,Kochi
Vallarpadam, an enticing tiny islet is encircled by picturesque Kochi backwaters. The church on the eastern end of the island is a jewel on the island physique. The church was established in 1676 and the famous picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary was erected by Portuguese who brought it from their native land. The picture is believed to have miraculous powers. Being an islet, Vallarapadam had access only by water. "'Vallarapadath Amma", as the St Mary of Vallarpadam is called, is believed to have miraculously saved may lives from shipwreck and violent storms. The feast of Vallarapadath Amma is held on Sept. 24. The week-long celebration is accompanied by a big fair quite different. The products traded are country boats, cars, pots and straw mats.
Christ the King Church, Thiruvananthapuram
Festival of the Christ the King is on the last Sunday of October. High Mass, Vespers, a two-hour long Holy Eucharistic procession and benediction are the highlights of the festival. Nativity feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary is also celebrated with religious spirit.
One of the oldest churches in India, believed to be established by St. Thomas during his missionary days in the state in AD 53. The Apostle of Jesus is believed to have erected a crucifix and built a church there. Many local Hindus gradually embraced Christianity leading to the spread of the religion and later into the establishment of regional church. In all walks of life be they social, cultural, literary and political this tiny hamlet has preserved its traditions.
The main religious festival honouring Holy Mary is on August 15. The birthday of St. Mary is celebrated on 8th September. St. Thomas Day( July3) is also celebrated with great zeal.
St. Thomas Cathedral, Pala
St. Thomas Church at Pala in Kottayam district is known for Rakkuli festival commemorating the Epiphany feast celebrated on January 6.The festival has become an occasion for trade related exhibitions. The festival symbolizes the Biblical account of the three Wiseman from East who left for Bethlehem to adore infant Jesus.
St. Dominic Church - Aluva
The feast of St. Dominic's Church at Aluva falls on the third Sunday after the Easter. The statue of the saint is taken out in procession on the day. The feast of "Our Lady of the Holy Rosary" also consists of the
spectacular procession on the Sunday after 8th of December. The procession route will be canopied with festoons, paper flowers, baskets and balloons.
Manarcad church, Kottayam
St. Mary's Church, Manarcaud is one of the outstanding churches of the Syrian Jacobite Church of Kerala. The most important festival here is the
eight-day fast in honour of St. Mary, starting on September 1. Holy Mass is offered on the feast days. On the concluding days, colourful processions are held.