We have already heard the timeless opening cords of Mariah’s iconic tune blaring from the radio. Proud friends and neighbours have taken to social media to showcase their new lights and displays. And you cannot help but be envious of THAT friend, who is ‘done already.’
Whether you love it or hate it, we are in full-swing. Christmas 2019 is upon us.
We know the drill inside out. But do you know how the people of Africa celebrate Christmas?
With over 350 million Christians living in Africa, Christmas is widely celebrated on the continent. In most African countries, it is a public holiday, with each country holding its own set of traditions. Thus each country celebrates the Christmas festivities in its own unique way.
On the 25th December, many Africans will attend a church service, where nativity plays, singing and dancing are the highlight. Some children in Africa enjoy carolling, going door-to-door to play homemade instruments, and to sing and dance. But for all Africans celebrating, Christmas is a very special time of year, to be spent with family and friends.
It looks as though our dreams of a white Christmas may be realised this year, but in the Southern hemisphere, it is a different picture. With the mountains of North West Africa being an exception, most of the continent basks in sunshine during the winter months.
Although not as commercial as our glittery exchanges, gift-giving is observed as part of many African Christmas celebrations. Communities may exchange more practical gifts, such as clothes, soap or cloth. In Malawi however, only a few parts of the country have adopted this practice, those in larger cities with more exposure to Western traditions.
Traditionally, December can be a challenging time in Malawi since crops are normally harvested in April meaning that supplies are starting to run low. The staple food is Nsima (a type of maize flour porridge) but on Christmas day, some replace this with chicken and rice – a real luxury particularly in rural villages. You won’t find any bucks fizz here but the celebratory tipple of choice is still fizzy: normally Fanta or another fluorescent colour of bubbly pop.
For many Malawians, Christmas is about unity, for all people. Senegal’s motto, for example, is: ‘one people, one goal, one faith.’ The Muslim community in the country respect their Christian neighbours’ holidays. Equally, Senegal’s Christians take part in Islamic holidays.
It is the same in Malawi. Religion here is open and accessible, with care and respect valued by all different faiths.
Christmas is not selective, and binds together all ages, races, genders and cultures. It is universal. Not discriminative, and open to all.
That is why we love it so much.
On Friday, The Chazuka Project’s Co-founders, Alex and Sara, are heading off to Malawi. They will be spending Christmas in Chazuka. A few weeks ago, we launched our #FestiveSchoolPack campaign to ensure each child at The Chazuka School received a Christmas gift of essential school resources and hot festive meal.
We hit that target really quickly thanks to the kindness and generosity of our supporters. Encouraged by this, we raised the bar by £100 and smashed through that just as fast. We’re really overwhelmed and incredibly grateful to each and every person who has donated, whether that be to this campaign, or those that give monthly.
Without you, our work just wouldn’t be possible.
We won’t stop now as any further money raised will go towards the running costs of The Chazuka School. If you would like to give the best gift you can this Christmas then you can donate here.
Zikomo … Thank you