The main focus of Christmas Celebrations in Africa

Africa Travel Blog

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WHAT IS CHRISTMAS? The history behind the most celebrated holiday of all times is simple yet very intriguing. Christmas is the day that history set aside to honour the birth of a boy child (Jesus) born many years ago in Nazareth? It is celebrated every December 25 while some celebrate it on January 7 (the Julian calendar, don�t ask about the Julian thing because I do not know. I will do some research on it). The birth of Jesus which is also considered the basis for the Anno Domini a well known system of dating began in the years before the birth of Christ (BC 7-2). There have been debates on whether the 25th of December is the actual date that Jesus was born. It is believed among early believers to have been chosen to coincide with some sort of festivity that the Roman Catholic Church reverenced. In the early eighteenth century there were propositions by scholars of alternative explanations as to why Jesus may not have been born on the 25th day of December. Nonetheless, as a Christian myself I do not care what the argument is, I believe and my belief is what I consider important. You know what happens when you start questioning your belief? Well you start looking for answers and the quest becomes a never ending story (Ye of small faith).

The Christmas Feast seems to dominate in the celebration of Christmas as a holiday. When I researched some information on the Christmas feast, I found that it was never apart of the earlier celebration of the birth of Jesus itself. As you may know Catholicism is a very strong religion which in the early life of the church faced extinction. In order to revive Catholicism in 378, the church promoted the Christmas feast and was introduced in Constantinople in 379. The Catholic Church in a bid to keep the feast formal and less despised promoted it in a more religious manner attaching rights to it. The story of Christmas is also based on bible accounts of the birth of Jesus: The gospels of Matthew, and Luke give accounts of it. As I read the history of it, I found I was getting confused and a little concerned . . . So I stopped. It seems the history of the Puritans in Europe has a lot to do with why the Christmas feast is now very popular, more so in the United States. The earlier history of Christmas in America shows that it was burned by the earlier Puritans Pilgrims (very orthodox) who moved from England to America.

I was born Catholic so you can imagine how much I know about Christmas and prophesies it fulfills from the old. Christians believe the birth of Jesus is a fulfillment of prophecies from the Old Testament. Growing up as a child, Christmas was a family affair that included Church and food with family: the main event in the day included watching the Late Pope John Paul II on TV blessing the world from the Vatican. We always ended the day watching �The Sound of Music� . Two days prior, my brothers would search the neighbourhood and even go far to find the perfect Christmas tree (I still do not know why the tree?). Through the years I have moved much and missed many Christmases at home, I miss the feeling of holiness that lived in the home all day as we celebrated the hope that we believe in with the birth of Jesus Christ. This year I�m home alone, far from family. I thought I would play Christmas Music and write a little about the African Christmas spirit. Did you know that going to church is generally the main focus of Christmas celebrations in Africa? Well it is.

Since the introduction of Christianity on the African Continent in the 1st century, the spiritual people of Africa have celebrated Christmas in a religious and spiritual way. Africa is a continent with different countries with different traditions; you will find that the way Ugandans celebrate Christmas is much different from the way the Egyptians do. In Egypt, the earlier association with the journey that the family of baby Jesus made brings a different meaning to their Christmas. There is a special association with the Christmas feast and tradition.

Having grown in Africa, I will say Christmas is celebrated in Africa by a little over three hundred and fifty million Christians. In my Country of Uganda the Churches have kept it very religious. Christmas Carols are sung, prayers are offered in thanksgiving and renewing of the faith in a life everlasting with Christ as our Saviour. At home, families roast meats and exchange gifts, gifts are only given by those who can afford it. Christmas is not all together as commercialized as it is in Europe and the Americas. The focus is still as religious as it was in it�s earlier inception, focus of the birth of Christ and the hope it brings us for a life beyond our humanity. Family gatherings over dinner/ lunch follow church service. My family still does it. This morning when I called my sister she was busy cooking away and her husband was prepping to slaughter the goat for roasting for the feast.

I still remember the Christmases in my childhood, we wrapped presents in old news papers (most of the presents were clothes or school supply), you have to know that we were a poor family and we could not afford many of the things that others can, of course this goes for many families in my country. My sister Beatrice and I seem to always remember buying gifts and spending ridiculous amounts of time wrapping them in hiding. We hung all Christmas cards on the tree as decorations. Because of the luck of funds to buy decorations, we used cotton to create snow on the tree and toilet paper (usually two colors) ha-ha! Oh how so nostalgic remembering those years gone by.

Living in the United States makes me feel extremely extravagant. I now have a 7 foot manufactured Christmas tree with boxes of decorations that my daughter and I have spent four Christmases using to decorate the tree. This year however, I have failed to put up all the decorations so my tree looks less exciting.

Merry Christmas 2008

Africancrab says:
Thank you Morris. Happy New Year to you and yours!
Posted on: Dec 28, 2012
drmorrisj says:
Congrats on your feature!!
Posted on: Dec 27, 2012
Africancrab says:
Brian, I like the idea of the photographs, I may borrow a leaf from you for next year. That is really interesting, thanks for sharing.
Posted on: Dec 27, 2012
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