It is almost the end of the month October and we are about to change all the clocks to the new wintertime (one hour back). However I doubt now seriously …. is it one hour back? or is it one month ahead? The reason I am asking this is because if you go to city of Funchal now it seems as if Christmas already has started. Buildings, galleries, shopping windows, streets etc. are already being decorated with Christmas adornments. I am already getting the season feeling …. in October!
I remember my first Christmas on Madeira. Especially the evening dress of Funchal. It is actually an ‘gala dress’ embroidered with thousands of coloured lights, which the city of Funchal starts wearing at begin of the month December. It is a spectacular view at night to see. You can put away your map of Funchal, and just follow the lights …. because the city itself offers you a road map through the string of lights on each street, each building, church and bridge. All of them sparkles 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, cosy and warm, with their hot drinks (hot chocolate), and some Christmas music playing in the background. Here on the island of Madeira that kind of inside experience takes place outside. Wandering through the magical streets of Funchal that has turned into one big nativity scenery, you will be hearing the various songs and music announcing the arrival of ‘Natal’. Enjoying several cultural and artistic events … organized for both locals and tourists. Not only Funchal becomes a giant amphitheater during the days of December, but also the other towns around the island have taken over the same approach to enchant people with lights, colours and warmth.
And there will be no time to recover from these Christmas day’s as the magic will continue. Various parties will be taking place in hotels, restaurants, bars and the streets. Just wander through the lighted streets you are sure to be swept up in the festivities somewhere.
And then there is the New Year’s Eve …
A lot has been said about the Revellion – New Year’s Eve on Madeira … which last time even got an award in the Guinness World Record. But I will summarize it for you in one word: spectacular!
In the Netherlands for example people spend millions of euros each year buying fireworks. A common household spends about 150 euros on firework …. and to see it all that value in money explode in their own backyard.
On the revellion of Madeira the locals don’t buy many fireworks. Maybe some stars and few rockets. On New Years Eve you take wine and food instead invite your family and friends, finding a nice spot with a view over the city of Funchal and then wait on the stroke of midnight. At which the stars in the sky will disappear for about 10-15 minutes. They will be replaced by million of lights and colors … that apparently seems to come from the Funchal’s ‘evening dress’. The city decided to fire the sky, sending all its jewels and let it duplicate by a thousand times more and bursts into a myriad of colours. The same time you hear the bells from the churches, the sirens of cruise ships and cargo vessels, culminating in the spectacular firework display. People will be cheering, hugging each other, toasting on the arrival of the New Year and wishing 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 embroidery evening dress for another year.