Christmas traditions in Madeira
In Madeira tradition dictates that homes are decorated on the 8th of December - holiday of Our Lady of Conception. Beyond the Christmas tree it is typical to assemble the Christmas crib or, as we call in Madeira, “Lapinha”.
The Lapinha can be build in 2 different ways:
the usual Christmas scene with the figures of Holy Mary, baby Jesus, Joseph, the 3 wise men but then with many sheep, cows, donkeys, shepherds and children miniatures and some offerings as fruits of the season and miniature cereal crops around;
an altar where baby Jesus is on the top and his offerings placed around him
It is also common to decorate the Lapinha with searinhas which are crops of corn, wheat, lentil and lupine planted in small vases. The cereal’s seeds are soaked for 1 or 2 days and then planted on the 8th of December so they are relatively grown on Christmas day. Some native plants to Madeira are also used such as the Climbing Butcher’s Broom Semele androgyna - Alegra-campo in Portuguese, the Hare’s Foot Fern Davallia canariensis - Cabrinhas and some other not native but traditional as Lady Slipper Orchids Paphiopedilum sp.