5 unique African Christmas traditions

Christmas is celebrated by Christians as a commemoration of Jesus’ birth and is celebrated all across the globe, and Africa is not exempted from these celebrations.

Africans take their holiday traditions to the next level. Here are six special Christmas traditions celebrated in Africa

Not all countries in Africa celebrate Christmas Day on the 25th of December. Some African countries celebrate Orthodox Christmas, neglecting the Gregorian calendar and following the Julian year. Countries such as Ethiopia and Egypt celebrate Christmas on the 7th of January.

Santa Claus is not the holiday mascot in some African countries. In Liberia, Old man Bayka is the mascot for the holiday season.

And unlike his western counterpart, he doesn’t give presents; he instead goes around the streets begging for gifts on Christmas morning. ‘My Christmas on you is the greeting used in Liberia in place of the usual ‘Merry Christmas.’

Zimbabweans decorate their homes not with the usual pine trees but with other trees and plants, one of which is ivy.

In Kenya, vigils known as ‘Kesha’ are held on Christmas Eve. The church bells ring at midnight to mark the birth of Jesus, and hymns and carols are then sung in celebration. They go home after to begin their parties and feasting; there is little to no sleep on Christmas Day.

The carnival of Fanal parade is an event held in Gambia. The people are seen after church services with fanals, a small ship made of paper, and bamboo sticks usually decorated with candles and lights on the inside. These fanals are used to collect donations from households in the neighborhood.

Christmas in Africa is usually not characterized by presents. While there might be an exchange of gifts, the Africans celebrate Christmas by wearing new clothes and clothing items and feasting with family.