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Christmas in Nepal: A Unique and Festive Experience

Article by Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah

Posted: May 5, 2023

Christmas is a holiday celebrated around the world, but the way it’s celebrated can vary greatly from country to country. If you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable way to celebrate Christmas, consider spending the holiday season in Nepal. Nestled in the Himalayas, this country has a rich and diverse culture that makes for a truly special Christmas experience.

Overview of Nepal

Before diving into the Christmas festivities in Nepal, let’s first take a brief overview of what Nepal is all about. Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia that’s known for its stunning mountains, rich history, and welcoming people. The country is home to eight of the ten highest peaks in the world, including Mount Everest, which draws in thousands of tourists every year. Nepal has a predominantly Hindu population, but there’s a significant Buddhist influence, as well. The official language of Nepal is Nepali, but English is widely spoken in the major cities.

Celebrating Christmas in Nepal

Although Nepal is predominantly Hindu, there’s still a significant Christian population in the country. This means that Christmas is celebrated with great enthusiasm and joy throughout Nepal. Nepalese Christmas traditions are a unique blend of Western customs and local customs, making for a truly unique experience.

One of the most popular Christmas traditions in Nepal is lighting diyos (oil lamps) and candles. These small, clay lamps are lit and placed outside homes and shops to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. You’ll see diyos everywhere during the holiday season in Nepal, and they’re a beautiful sight to behold.

Another popular Nepalese Christmas tradition is attending midnight mass at a local church. This is a time for family and friends to come together and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Churches are decorated with lights and Christmas decorations, and the atmosphere is one of joy and celebration. If you’re looking for a more traditional Christmas experience, attending midnight mass in Nepal is a must.

Nepal is also known for its Christmas markets and events. Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, is home to the largest Christmas market in the country. Here you’ll find everything from local handicrafts to delicious food and drink. The market is a great place to shop for unique Christmas gifts, and it’s an excellent opportunity to try some of the local delicacies.

Winter holidays. Hand holding Christmas tree gingerbread cookie on background of tree with lights.

Top Places to Visit in Nepal during Christmas

There are many places to visit in Nepal during Christmas, each with its own unique charm. Kathmandu, the capital city, is a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Nepal. During Christmas, the city comes alive with lights and decorations, and there are many events and activities to participate in. If you’re looking for a more laid-back Christmas experience, Pokhara is a great destination. This lakeside city is known for its stunning views of the Himalayas and its relaxed atmosphere. During Christmas, the city hosts a Christmas market and other festive events.

If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure during your Christmas holiday, Chitwan National Park is an excellent destination. This park is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including tigers, elephants, and rhinos. Visitors can take wildlife safaris and explore the lush jungles of the park.

Things to Do in Nepal during Christmas

There’s no shortage of things to do in Nepal during Christmas. If you’re looking for a cultural experience, there are many tours available that will take you to some of Nepal’s most historic sites, such as the Boudhanath Stupa and the Pashupatinath Temple. These tours will give you a glimpse into Nepal’s rich and diverse history and culture.

For the more adventurous types, hiking is a popular activity in Nepal, and there are many trekking routes that offer breathtaking views of the Himalayas. During Christmas, you can take part in a festive trekking experience that will take you through traditional Nepalese villages, where you can learn about local customs and traditions.

Food is also an important part of the Christmas experience in Nepal. During the holiday season, you’ll find many local specialties available, such as sel roti (a traditional Nepalese fried bread), momos (dumplings filled with meat or vegetables), and thukpa (a hearty noodle soup). You can also try traditional Nepalese sweets like sel, which is made from sesame seeds and jaggery.

Volunteering in Nepal with GVI

If you’re looking for a more immersive experience during your Christmas holiday in Nepal, consider volunteering with GVI. GVI is an international volunteer organisation that offers a range of volunteer opportunities in Nepal, including community development, and education. As a volunteer with GVI, you’ll have the opportunity to stay with a host family in Pokhara and experience Nepalese Christmas traditions first hand.

Staying with a host family is an excellent way to learn more about Nepalese culture and customs. You’ll have the opportunity to participate in traditional activities such as lighting diyos and attending midnight mass. You’ll also have the chance to try authentic Nepalese cuisine and learn about the country’s rich history and culture.

Volunteering with GVI is a great way to give back to the local community while also having a unique and meaningful travel experience. You’ll have the opportunity to work alongside local volunteers and make a real difference in the lives of Nepalese people. Whether you’re interested in education, conservation, or community development, GVI has a volunteer program that will suit your interests and skills.

Christmas in Nepal is a unique and unforgettable experience. From the diyos and midnight mass to the Christmas markets and outdoor adventures, there’s something for everyone in Nepal during the holiday season. The country’s rich and diverse culture makes for a truly special Christmas experience that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. So, if you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable way to celebrate Christmas, consider spending the holiday season in Nepal.

By Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah is a freelance writer from New Zealand with a passion for outdoor adventure and sustainable travel. She has been writing about travel for more than five years and her work has appeared in print and digital publications including National Geographic Travel, Conde Nast Travel, Business Insider, Atlas Obscura and more. You can see more of her work at petrinadarrah.com.
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Nepal’s Traditional Food: A Culinary Journey through the Himalayas

Discover the rich and diverse flavours of Nepal's traditional cuisine, from momos to dal bhat, and learn how to experience it while volunteering in Pokhara with GVI.

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