African Christmas


African Christmas – traditions in Africa

Christmas, first of all whether it is African or otherwise,  is a special time of the year.

African Christmas in which preparation for Christmas is usually  in its full swing. In the Congo it begins when some groups prepare the annual Christmas pageant.

Christmas in Africa begins with groups of carollers walking to and fro through the village, along the roadway, by the houses of the missionaries, singing the lovely carols known the world around. People wake up to a group of carollers beginning to converge on the house of worship. They return home to make final preparation as to the clothes one must wear and also as to his offering for the Christmas service.

The most important part of their Christmas worship service is the love offering, being the gift in honour of Jesus. Then at about 8 or 9 o’clock everyone makes their way to the celebration of the birthday of Jesus.

Everyone who attends the service goes forward to lay down their gift upon the raised platform near the Communion table. Not one person will attend the service without giving a gift.

Now people have Christmas dinners after the service, preparing tables out in front of their home and inviting many of their intimate friends to share.

Christmas in South Africa is a summer holiday. In December, the southern summer brings glorious days of sunshine that carry an irresistible invitation to the beaches, the rivers, and the shaded mountain slopes. Then the South African holiday season reaches its height. Schools are closed, and camping is the order of the day. In South Africa there is no snow, but many flowers, beautiful varieties of cultivated and wild flowers which are in their full pride, is what makes Christmas in Africa unimaginable.

In the cities and towns carollers make their rounds on Christmas Eve. Church services are held on Christmas morning. Christmas Eve celebrations in larger centres include “Carols by Candlelight” and special screen and floor shows.

Homes are being decorated with pine branches, and all have the decorated Christmas fir in a corner, with presents for the children around. First of all bedtime on Christmas Eve is when all children also hang up their stockings for presents.

Many South Africans have a Christmas dinner in the open-air lunch. For many more, due to the traditional dinner of either turkey, roast beef, mince pies, or suckling pig, yellow rice with raisins, vegetables, and plum pudding, crackers, paper hats, and all. In the afternoon, families go out into the country and usually there are games or bathing in the warm sunshine, and then home in the cool of the evening. Boxing Day is also a proclaimed public holiday usually spent in the open air. It falls on December 26 and is a day of real relaxation.

In addition a African Christmas in a country such as Ghana, which is on the West Coats of Africa, churches heralds the coming of Christmas due to churches and homes being decorated at the beginning of the first week in Advent which is four weeks before Christmas. This season happens to coincide with the cocoa harvest, so it is a time of wealth. Everyone returns home.

On the eve of Christmas, children march up and down the streets singing Christmas Carols and shouting “Christ is coming, Christ is coming! He is near!” in their language. In the evening, people flock to churches decorated with Christmas evergreens or palm trees massed with candles. Young and old sing hymns present nativity plays.

On Christmas Day, children and older people, representing the angels in the fields outside Bethlehem, go from house to house singing. Church services are held where they dress in their native attire or Western costumes. A feast of rice and yam paste called fufu with stew or okra soup, porridge and meats is served. Families eat together or with close neighbours, and a present is given to each one.

On the west coast of Africa, Liberia, most homes has an oil palm for a Christmas tree. Bells are the main decoration. African Christmas –  on Christmas morning, people wake up by singers singing carols. Everyone gives presents like cotton cloth, soap, sweets, pencils, and books each other. In the morning there is a church service. There the Christmas scene is enacted.  Everyone sings Christmas hymns and carols.  Dinner is mainly outdoors. Everyone sits in a circle and share the meal of rice, beef and biscuits. This is truly a special occasion. Families play all kinds of games in the afternoon, and at night fireworks light up the sky.

Linksfontein Safari Lodge wishes you all a Merry and Blessed Christmas. May it be as magical and special for you as it is to all of us in Africa.

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