“Nowhere in the world, perhaps, celebrate and enjoy Xmas so much, and feel for it as much enthusiasm and joy as in Madeira. These are days of lively rejoicing, of religious and mystical contentment. ” Manuel Ribeiro
I’ve just came back from Costa Brava last week and it was a great pleasure to arrive in Madeira and to feel Christmas all around. We call it “Festa” since this is “the true party” for the Madeirans.
I went through the avenues of Arriaga Avenue, cheered up with the Christmas lights (which I love), listened to live music performances, went to the market to eat bread with” wine and garlic meat”, tasted liqueurs and cherry from the Nun’s Valley plus the typical sugar cane honey cake.
I was well accompanied by the euphoria of Christmas, the one that we drink, eat and breath in this island…celebration is everywhere.
This year, I also paid special attention to the nativity scenes or “lapinhas” “that link the religious traditions of Christmas to local life and nature”. There were 5 in total, the lapinhas I visited and it is incredible to admire the work and the dedication that exists in the construction of these Nativity scenes. Moreover, if there is a tradition that remains authentic over the years, it is this one, as you can note in some of the following excerpts from the famous old book “Islands of Zarco”.
These were the 5 places where I was able to visit Madeiras’s Lapinhas:
1.House- Museum Frederico de Freitas – Calçada de Santa Clara 7, 9000-036 Funchal
“Crib or lapa, it is a tradition of the Portuguese continent, and this denomination would become the lapinha of Madeira, and for centuries, all the evolutions of the nativity scene of the Child Jesus. ”
This lapinha was one of my favorites because of the antiquity of its figures and its state of conservation. Good taste and authenticity.
“The little green “cabrinhas” are sweeping and refreshing the whole table. Strings of oranges, pears, urchins and nuts intersect the figures. “
2. Galeão’s Lapinha –Rua Escola Secundária do Galeão 9000-385 Funchal
“The typical composition of the crib is the history of nature, of social life, and of the psychology of each passing age, leaving from year to year … memories that remain.”
“A cock crows, the cow and the donkey guard the manger of Bethlehem, and there the wise Kings are mounted on dromedaries and guided by a star.”
This crib was one of the largest I visited. Aparently it took about 4 months to be built and it is amazing! All the parishes of Funchal are represented there and the set of lights is amazing …
3. Nuns Valley’s Christmas Village – 9030 – 319 Curral das Freiras
“The orography of the island is represented there with the ingenuity of folk art: hills and valleys covered with paper trees, crossed by rough and tortuous paths, winding through cotton waterfalls to give movement and freshness.”
This is perhaps the most famous of all and it is easy to understand why … The details and scenes of Madeiran daily life are very well represented, with dolls from my childhood, dressed to the occasion.
4. Jardim da Serra –Rotunda Cerejeiras C Cívico Jardim Serra
9325-272 JARDIM DA SERRA
” Processions go out, troops march, music bands give concerts, figures of yesterday and today. In this mixture germinates the wheat, the corn, the lentil and the lupine in saucers of clay or porcelain. ”
This one is equally curious. Different from the others, it is worth the visit and try not to miss the tasting of the liqueur of mandarin and other delicacies of this friendly parish.
5. Largo da Restauração – 9000-060 Funchal
“Cardboard and thatched houses crown the elevations and lurk at the edge of the rocks. Following the paths miniscule shepherds of clay go up, in different sizes, dressed in bright colors, displaying customs, scenes of daily life and regional clothing “.
The classic crib or lapinha of Largo da Restauração is always beautiful. An appeal to contemplation. The pictures and little houses scattered around the mountains of the island are such a treat …
I wish you a Merry Christmas with health, peace, love, friendship and of course, one or another trip to somewhere warm ;).
PS – Looking for a hotel to stay in Madeira?