How Christmas is Celebrated in Africa

How Christmas is Celebrated in Africa

It’s that time of year again; people are making their lists, checking them twice, and maybe you’re wondering if there’s a way you can incorporate some African culture into your Christmas celebration. Let’s start by finding out how people celebrate Christmas in Africa.

In Congo in Africa, a group is assigned to prepare an annual Christmas pageant. On Christmas morning, African people and groups of carolers walk around the village and sing Christmas carols. They then go home to dress in festive clothes and take or make love offerings for Jesus to the special service that is held at the local house of worship.

Since Christmas falls in summer in South Africa, it is not the snowy dark winter night but sunshine and blooming flowers that adorn the Christmas Eve. There are summer holidays in schools and camping is common. People celebrate with carols by candlelight, and homes are decorated with pine branches. Christmas fir is put in a corner with presents for children of the household around its base.

In Ghana, the 26th of December is known as Boxing Day and is a proclaimed public holiday. It is a day of rest and relaxation. Christmas time is time for the cocoa harvest and hence people are prosperous and have money to spare.

On Christmas eve children sing Christmas carols and march down the streets shouting, “Christ is coming!”. In the evening, a special service is held in the churches, which are decorated with evergreen and palm trees and lighted candles. Nativity plays are performed and people sing hymns.

In Africa the traditional Christmas feast consists of rice, meats, porridge, okra soup or stew and yam paste called fufu. Families and close friends gather at the feast and share gifts and presents.

In Liberia, an oil palm adorned with bells is used as the Christmas tree. In the morning of Christmas, people awake with carols and share utility items such as soaps and pencils as Christmas gifts.

Christmas dinner in Liberia is arranged outdoors and the traditional dishes consist of rice, beef and biscuits. Traditional Christmas games serve as afternoon pastime while the advent of Christ is celebrated in the night with fireworks.

In Zimbabwe goats are quickly snapped up at the local markets and roasted on Christmas day. Zimbabweans make sure there’s plenty of bread, jam and tea to eat along with their goat meat.

In Malawi on Christmas morning, groups of children go door-to-door to perform dances and Christmas songs dressed in skirts made of leaves and playing home-made instruments. They receive small gifts or money in return.

How can you bring African traditions into your holiday season?

Try serving African food for your Christmas feast. You can find many African recipes on various web sites for free.

Try wearing festive African clothing to your Christmas parties. George garments and brocade garments are a favorite in Christmas celebrations in Africa.

Add some African ambiance to your caroling with African musical instruments. Give the kids some tic-toc drums to play and add a kalimba to your caroling for a fun, easy, affordable sound.

How to say “Merry Christmas” in Africa:
In Akan (Ghana): Afishapa
In Zimbabwe: Merry Kisimusi
In Afrikaans (South Africa): Gesende Kersfees
In Zulu: Sinifisela Ukhisimusi Omuhle
In Swazi (Swaziland): Sinifisela Khisimusi Lomuhle
In Sotho (Lesotho): Matswalo a Morena a Mabotse
In Swahili (Tanzania, Kenya): Kuwa na Krismasi njema
In Amharic (Ethiopia): Melkam Yelidet Beaal
In Egyptian: Colo sana wintom tiebeen

Wayne Kiltz is the founder and owner of Africa Imports. You can find over 100 other articles on African art, culture, and fashion, along with African proverbs, recipies, and African business opportunities at