Rachael goes on and on about how her family house is fully occupied by her brothers’ and sister’s families and how her parents are excited for Christmas. She tells me the activities at home have intensified and that I am welcome to celebrate with them. The activities at my home have intensified too so I wouldn’t be celebrating Christmas with Rachael’s family. My brothers and their families are arriving tomorrow and my mum is looking forward to having a full house. The atmosphere before and around Christmas here in Nigeria is always intense and pregnant with celebration and there are a few Christmas traditions we observe here in Nigeria which I will love to share with you.
- Christmas is not meant to be celebrated alone: We almost feel sorry for people who celebrate Christmas alone. For those who live alone in cities, most of them travel back home to mark Christmas because usually at home during Christmas, there is surplus, more than enough food to feed an army. Also at Christmas, families prepare the best delicacies and they start serving out food to friends and families who come in to visit some few days to Christmas quite early. So it is not out of place to see a major increase in travelling from major cities to different parts of the country including villages at this time. This is because nobody wants to be alone at Christmas.
- There is something known as “Christmas clothes”: Children whine about it when their parents do not buy them “Christmas clothes”. Adults would probably not call it Christmas clothes but would go ahead and buy or sew themselves some new attire to mark the celebration. Usually, “Christmas clothes” starts from buying or sewing one complete outfit plus shoes and bag, to as much as you want and can afford.
- On Christmas eve night, Christians and non Christians gather to celebrate: On the 24th of December, some Christians will gather in their churches to celebrate the night the wise men saw the star the heralded the birth of Jesus Christ. On that night, popular Christmas songs are rendered, the bible event is reenacted and other fun related activities are presented. Others will attend any of the Christmas eve night events where they will dance till or after midnight.
- Firecrackers from morning of Christmas eve: I usually would wake up to the sound of firecrackers on Christmas eve mornings and hear it as it intensifies during the day. The throws become intense after church/secular events as young people get excessively excited. Throwing of firecrackers becomes a usual occurrence from that moment on into the new year.
- Christmas Day: On Christmas Day, most families celebrate by cooking the best of their families’ delicacies. Jollof rice, Fried Rice and Fried or Boiled Chicken are the high ranking meals of choice for most families for their Christmas day celebration. There are outdoor events for families at Christmas which most families would attend or some families might choose a quiet celebration like having a picnic at the beach. Some families encourage the custom of presenting gifts to each other on the evening/night on Christmas day and they open their gifts very early the next day, on Boxing Day.
This is my view on how most Nigerians celebrate Christmas. Do you know of other Christmas tradition that was not mentioned? Let us know in the comment section below.
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This article was first published on 24th December 2015