A Look at the nations within Africa that celebrate Christmas...
After 43 days of fasting, on the seventh of December, Egyptians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas is an important holiday for the people of Egypt because of the period of time that Joseph, Mary, and the Son of God spent in Egypt. Like in the west, homes are decorated with lights and Christmas trees weeks ahead of time, but Christmas doesn’t start until the end of the church service that marks the end of the fast.
Egyptians start Christmas morning with a breakfast of biscuits, cake, pancakes called “Kahk el ‘aid”, and a cup of milk. The small children get a feast gift, “El ‘aidia” which is a small sum of money to buy sweets, toys, ice cream, sugar cane juice, etc. The gifts are usually giving by the elders (parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles).
Christmas is spent outdoors where you can see children and adults alike in their new clothes playing with toys and fireworks, running around with balloons. Some people like spending their Christmas day in public gardens, playing football or volleyball, or playing on the swings.
Nile picnics are a very important part of Egyptian Christmas Traditions. There are feasts by the water, which consists of large cuts of meat and chicken, vegetables, fruit, and non-alcoholic drinks.
The day for this celebration is long and full of thankfulness and ends in a request for peace.
While Mali is a mainly Muslim country, Christmas is publicly celebrated in honor of the birth of Jesus.
Festivities begin the day before Christmas at the church with an all night service. There is time for worship, time for sermons, and time for acting and activities for the children. Bible verses are memorized and recited by the youngest of the children and the older women.
Christmas day is full of good food and long prayer services. Almost thirty hours out of two days is spent at the church in prayer. Gifts are not normally exchanged.
The day after Christmas, Boxing Day, is spent in church as well. There are a lot of baptismal services on this day. Boxing day is also a time for the women members of the congregation to go around to different courtyards and sing. It is polite to offer a small bit of money to the singers if it is your courtyard they are visiting.
Christmas in Sudan starts on the 23rd of December and ends on the 15th of January. It is a time of joy, prayer, and friends and family for the 1.5 million Christians that reside there.
The people of Sudan decorate their homes with trees, lights, and many, many ornaments. For Christmas new clothes and bed sheets are purchased if it can be afforded. If not, the best of both textiles are used, as a sign of respect.
At midnight on Christmas Eve, celebrations begin. Christmas songs and hymns are sung and as the morning of Christmas dawns people leave the church singing, dancing, and playing the drums.
Christmas afternoon, most people celebrate with a large luncheon with stuffed turkey, pigeons, BBQ lamb, special rice, and stuffed vegetables. Some people exchange gifts, but most people do not. Those that do exchange gifts usually exchange baked goods such as cookies and cakes.