Christmas Eve Supper

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Annual Senhor dos Passos procession in Macau to celebratea the Passion of Christ
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Filhos de MacauA term Macanese used for themselves. of pre-Vatican 2 era took their religious obligations very seriously, religiously observing all the Holy Days of Obligations, abstaining from eating meat on Fridays and other proscribed days, confessing and receiving the Eucharist at least once a year as required by Church law. They attended, en masse, the many Processions such as the Senhor dos Passos (The Passion of Christ) and Christ the King. Even though not obligatory, many attended the Way of the Cross and Benediction evening services during Lent. The most anticipated festival for our people is of course Christmas.

Great energy and expense were spent to make this day a success. Preparations usually began in October in old Macau: the family pig was slaughtered and the legs cured to make ham for the Christmas table. Nothing of the animal was wasted: the entrails were used as sausage casing, the loins for Porco Vinho de Alho and even the bristles for brushes.

The Hong Kong residents, however, obtained all of their meat and poultry from the main market but the ham – mainly from Australia – was purchased from an importer and from Dairy Farms in later years.

To save time orders were placed with the merendahawker salesman for the labor-intensive sweets such as alua, cuscurão and farte. But the making of the traditional fish pie empada was reserved for the lady of the house assisted by the cook chee loh and servants.

Preparation proceeded with increased intensity until the week before Christmas when the empadas are made.

By December the 24th all was ready: the house was cleaned and floors waxed; the young had their hair cut and were bathed, there were new suits for the boys and dresses for the girls were ironed.

By dinner time, the creche was set up, with the Holy Family minus the Baby Jesus, shepherds, many animals placed around the empty crib.

Christmas eve was a day of abstinence and fasting. Only one full meal was allowed and that was usually taken at dinner.

Consoada (Christmas Eve dinner) began at 8.30 pm starting with a shrimp broth called lacassá containing shrimp, rice vermicelli and that foul sauce balichão, a salad of thinly sliced carrots; white radish pickle loh pakdaikon radish – soaked in sweetened vinegar was eaten with the main dish, a whole peixe assado (baked fish) followed by empada.

For dessert the sweets, alua, cuscurão, etc., and mandarin oranges were eaten.

After dinner, the family would proceed on foot (the senior members would however be transported on sedan chairs) to Church for Missa de Galomidnight Mass — literally, mass of the rooster.

After Mass they would return home, place the Baby Jesus in his manger, pray and consume what is left of dinner and retire eagerly anticipating the big day.

If Christmas fell on a Sunday then the faithful were obliged to attend Mass. The remainder of the day was what the 2010 generation will call "party time".