Christmas and New Year are celebrated at the same time everywhere in the Christian world, and Madeira is not an exception. For this magic time of the year the streets of Funchal get beautifully ‘dressed up’ with thousands of lights in numerous colours. During this time, the roads outside Funchal also put on their Christmas dress, as almost all the lamp posts are connected with a light chain, giving the impression of a lit road map when looked at from above.
This is a special season for the Madeirans as traditions and customs are renewed. December is the month of the 'Festa', as the Madeirans call it. In addition to the dedication with which they decorate the houses, with the traditional "lapinhas" (cribs) and with flowers of the time, it is common to make typical Christmas delicacies, like honey biscuits, liqueurs, or meat in wine and garlic.
Before Christmas Day there are the birth masses, usually nine, which always attract many believers. At the end of these masses there is always a social gathering. People sing and share seasonal delicacies while singing Christmas Carols.
On the night of December 23rd, the commonly known "Market Night", all the roads lead to the Farmers' Market in Funchal (Mercado dos Lavradores), where people make the last Christmas shopping related to fruits and flowers, and at the fish market traditional Christmas carols are sung. Everyone can participate, but it is advisable to arrive early! However, now there are market nights in several places all over the island. This already happens in Estreito de Câmara de Lobos, Santa Cruz, Machico, and Ribeira Brava, among others.
These festivities come to and end on December 31, with the spectacular fireworks show, which placed Madeira into the Guinness book of records as the largest show in the world! It is truly an unforgettable moment, seen from the sea or by land, and the most incredible way to leave the old year behind and embrace the New Year with lots of color, joy and hope! This should be the longest night in Madeira, with people celebrating the New Year until the wee hours of the next day!
The magnificent Christmas light decorations all over Funchal, together with the fantastic New Year’s Eve fireworks and activities make Madeira Island one of the most attractive ‘réveillon’ destinations, to which already so many people return every year to experience this special ambience over and over again.