Novel set in London (“..there’s always a chance of reconciliation…”)
Author Harriet Steel talks about Christmas in Sri Lanka
7th December 2018
Author Harriet Steel talks to us about how Sri Lankans celebrate Christmas, and her new Inspector de Silva Mystery, Christmas in Nuala.
Harriet Steel, author of the #TFBookClub November/December 2017 read, Trouble in Nuala, has just published the fifth book in her Inspector de Silva Mysteries series. We asked her to tell us a bit about it.
Harriet – I’d be delighted to and thank you so much for asking. In Christmas in Nuala, de Silva casts an indulgent eye over the efforts of the British community to replicate a traditional English Christmas in his exotic homeland. He plans to enjoy the celebrations, until his attention is claimed by the need to solve a brutal murder and, along the way, rescue an endangered romance.
In the 1930s, the period when the series is set, British rule over the former Ceylon must have conferred considerable importance on the Christian community, but today, Christianity is very much a minority religion in Sri Lanka. Nevertheless, Christmas Day is a public holiday in the country, and the season is widely celebrated. Whether this is entirely due to Sri Lanka’s colonial heritage – Dutch, Portuguese, and finally British – is debatable. It probably has more to do with the fact that Sri Lankans love a celebration and the more colourful the better.
Their own grandest and oldest festival is the Esala Perahera, the Buddhist mid-summer festival held in Kandy to honour the relic of the Sacred Tooth. The casket holding the Tooth is paraded through the streets, and, over the course of ten days, large numbers of jugglers, dancers, musicians, firebreathers, and lavishly decorated elephants throng the city. A word of warning though – if you go, be ready for huge crowds and unbelievable noise levels!
With Christmas, the festivities start early in December with the sound of firecrackers at dawn. Soon, shopping centres, streets, and houses are bright with Christmas trees and decorations.On Christmas Eve, midnight mass is held in churches and chapels all over the country.
As in the West, food plays a large part in the Sri Lankan Christmas, but nowadays, you’re more likely to be treated to a traditional Sri Lankan feast (usually consisting of about twenty-five dishes) than the turkey, sprouts and plum pudding that await Inspector de Silva in Christmas in Nuala.
Thank you so much to Harriet for giving us a little insight into Christmas festivities in Sri Lanka!
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