Christmastime in San Thome in the 1960s; four seniors recall the warm days

Memories are precious. On the eve of Christmas, Preetha K. spoke to four seniors of their childhood memories of Christmas season in San Thome.  Memories of Decembers in the 1960s and 1970s.

AUBREY MILLET / Retired Marketing Executive: lives in Bangalore

“My mother was particular about making plum cakes. December was special not just for Christmas but also for my birthday and my wedding anniversary. The cake baking process would start in the first week of December. She used to make 10 different kinds of plum cakes which could be kept for a long time.

“Our family also made special snacks like Cul-Culs and Chocolate Fudge. We used to buy most of our ingredients from Ceylon Bakery which was on Kutchery Road.”

“Cake mixing was a ritual. It ringed in the celebration mood. We used to add a bit of liquor, usually brandy, in the cakes. My sister and I would also be part of the mixing process. I remember clearly the midnight Holy Mass on December 24 at San Thome Cathedral. After the Mass, we came home, had some cake and a glass of homemade wine.”  

‘On Christmas day, lots of our non-Christian friends would drop in, wish us and get their share of cake and wine!

CHERYL JANAGARAJ / Retired Banker, San Thome resident

“The midnight Holy Mass at our church in San Thome always excited us kids.  At home, staying awake was only allowed during Christmas. So, taking a bath, dressing up in new clothes and going to church for Mass was a joyful affair.”

“My mother used to make huge quantities of cakes. We did not have a baking facility at home. So, we used to take the mixed cakes in a rickshaw to Ceylon Bakery closeby and wait there till it got baked. It was a great feeling.”

“Christmas was a time to visit the houses of friends who lived close by and sing carols there. They used to give us some goodies and if they were close to us, we would also get some gifts.

EUANNAN J. J. REGO / Retired contractor, now in Secunderabad

“We lived in San Thome from 1956 to 1972.  Christmas celebrations were very home-oriented. There was a big luncheon spread with family members assembled around the table to enjoy the meal, over a glass of homemade wine prepared six months earlier.”

“We used to buy dress materials from London Stores at Moore Market and get it tailored as per one’s taste or of the fashion prevailing at those times.”

“To bake our cakes, we had to take them to Ceylon Bakery on Kutchery Road or Crown Bakery . At home, we made Kul-kuls, murukku, sweet moon-shaped Puffs with roasted sooji filling, plums and cashew nuts, and coconut sweets. We also prepared what was popularly called OT – a drink with spices and ginger. We even  distributed the OT to neighbours and friends!”

“There was limited choice for decorations. Our Christmas tree would be a bare bark with sturdy branches and it was decked up with white cotton bits and some bright dolls. The statue of baby Jesus would be placed in the home crib only at midnight.”

 “The rounds made by San Thome’s carol singers, the family meet-ups and dinners would come to an end on January 6, which is called Epiphany or the feast of the three Kings who visited the stable at Bethlehem.”

 “Midnight Holy Mass was a big event. My friends would gather after Mass and burst crackers, have a hot cup of tea at a local shop in San Thome that would remain past midnight and then go home.”

 MARGARET WILFRED / Retired banker, Foreshore Estate resident

 “My Christmas recollections of San Thome take me to the image of  a lean, tall gentleman with guitar and two other male vocalists who would walk along Nimmo Road, Sullivan Street, Muthu Gramani Street, Kutchery Road, San Thome High Road between 9 pm and 11 pm . .they would play on the guitar and sing Christmas carols. It was very nice to hear the carols in the quiet hours of the night.”

“We enjoyed the Christmas theme plays that were staged in church for Sunday School children. Doreen Lazaro was the lady behind these plays.”

“Parents of kids used to secretly pack gifts and send them to the house of the Lazaros and these were distributed as a surprise gift from Santa Claus. I recall how Carlton Lazaro ( who is now in Australia), Doreen’s husband, would dress up as Santa and surprise us children. This brought a lot of joy to us children.”

  • Image used here is for representation nnly. Not of San Thome.

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