christmas babyDo Africans celebrate Christmas? How do Africans celebrate Christmas? What do Africans eat on Christmas? How do you say "Merry Christmas" in Africa? What makes Christmas so special?

To begin, yes Africans celebrate Christmas and yes we love Christmas. In fact, Africa loves Christmas more than any other continent and we celebrate Christmas in style. Christmas is celebrated throughout Africa and it is perhaps the most wonderful time of the year.

In Africa, Christmas is more than just a holiday and we celebrate it with passion. Yes it is true there is no snow for Rudolph the red nosed reindeer and Santa Claus to travel on but that does not mean Christmas is dead in Africa. We celebrate Christmas in a whole new style. In fact, Santa Claus would be jobless in my village in Africa because our "Father Christmas" does not need snow to travel. Unlike Santa, Father Christmas can travel even on horses and horses are way faster than reindeers. This means, you get  your presents on time.

Christmas remains one of the most festive periods on the African calendar and it is perhaps the best time to be a kid in Africa. Almost everybody celebrates Christmas because Christmas in Africa is more than just the birth of the baby Jesus. Christians, Muslims, Traditional worshippers, etc. all celebrate christmas in their own special ways. In my village, Christmas is so special to us because it is one of the very few holidays we get in a year and it is the best time to be a kid. It is the duty of every family to make Christmas joyous and it is the responsibility of every parent to buy "Christmas gifts" for their children. Any father who fails to provide Christmas gifts has broken one of the most important laws of christmas and must be prepared to answer 1000 questions at a time. Because of the poverty situation in some parts of Africa, not so many kids receive gifts from their poor parents on daily basis. For example, in my family, Christmas time was perhaps the only time we all received new and expensive clothes, shoes, etc. You could get a shirt or a pair of sandals from time to time but definitely not a dressing shoe or something expensive. We only received expensive clothes during Christmas time. It is a gift every kid receives from his or her parents whether rich or poor. "Christmas clothes" has become a tradition in my village and tradition must go on.

So how do people say "Merry Christmas" in Africa? Well, that is a very big question. As you know, Africa is a very big continent with more than 2000 different languages. Every tribal group has its own languages so it depends on where you go. For example, Ghana, Nigeria, Gambia, Sierra Leone, and Liberia are Anglophone (English-speaking) countries. In other words, English is the official language in these 5 countries so it is not surprising to hear "Merry Christmas" anywhere in these 5 countries. However, you may be surprised to hear "Afishapa" which is just another way of saying "Merry Christmas" in Ghana. "Afishapa" (more correctly, 'Afenhyiapa') means Merry Christmas in the Akan language. Akan is not the only native language spoken in Ghana. In fact, there are about 46 native languages spoken in Ghana which implies, there are about 47 different ways of saying Merry Christmas in Ghana alone. Ghana is a small country compared to giants like Nigeria. Nigeria for example has about 550 different native languages which implies about 551 different ways of saying "Merry Christmas" in Nigeria. The good part however, is that, almost every Nigerian knows and understands "Merry Christmas" because English is the official language in Nigeria. On the other hand, countries like Ivory Coast, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Togo, Mali, Niger, Congo, Guinea and Gabon are Francophone (French speaking countries). So instead of Merry Christmas, you can say "Joyeux Noël" which is the most popular way of saying Merry Christmas in French.

So what do Africans eat on Christmas? Once again, that depends on where you go in Africa on Christmas day. In my village, Christmas without chicken is considered a "dead Christmas". Despite the abundance of sheep, goats, and cattle in my village, chicken remains the "chairman" of Christmas and has perhaps the best "personality" when it comes to Christmas. Just as turkey reigns supreme during thanksgiving in America, so chicken conquers all other favorites during Christmas period and any family that fails to "assassinate" chicken during Christmas time, has broken perhaps one of the most important rules of Christmas and must be prepared to face the consequences which include having to deal with the shame all year long. Although there is no special dish for Christmas, anything you taste on Christmas must feel good in your mouth because that is just one of the rules of Christmas in Africa. Mothers give out their best cooking skills on Christmas day. You will remember any "fufu and chicken soup" you taste in Ghana on Christmas day and you will definitely turn Oliver Twist and ask for more "Eba and Egusi soup" in Nigeria on a Christmas day. "Jollof Rice and fried chicken" also reign supreme on Christmas day in Africa.