These African Christmas Traditions Will Make You Want To Fly South For The Winter

Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad! E ku odun, e hu iye' dun! The season is upon us, and Christmas is almost here. What do you do usually do for Christmas? Do some carolling with family and friends. Cook a big Christmas dinner with a succulent turkey as the star of the show. Chill out at the beach?

We figure the last one isn't an option for all of you! In South Africa, Boxing Day - that's December the 26th - is a public holiday, and people can be seen taking in the warming rays of the sun and basking that festive glow. The joy of having hot weather during the festive season opens up so many possibilities! Here are some African Christmas traditions that will make you want to head south for the winter.


Door-to-door dancers in Malawi

Finding festive friends and family getting together to sing Christmas carols is always a treat. Wrapped up on festive garb and singing those songs we all know and love, it's impossible not to get in the spirit of things. What if they danced too?

In Malawi, they dial this tradition up to 11! Groups of young people around the neighbourhood performing dances and singing songs during the festive season - and that's not all! These creative kids use handmade instruments to make the music. Watch as they do traditional dances in full costume!

 

Boat parades in Senegal and Gambia

Let's be honest, boats aren't usually the first thing you think about when someone mentions Christmas, right? So you might be surprised at this Senegalese and Gambian festive tradition. Each year, many people make model boats called fanals and parade them around to celebrate Christmas and the transition into a new year. These boats are made out of bamboo and paper, and filled with lights. Watch a fanal parade go through Saint-Louis, Senegal.

 

All of the lights in Ethiopia

Here's something you may not have known. Ethiopia still uses the Julian calendar, so they celebrate Christmas Day on January 7th! That doesn't mean Ethiopians don't get festive however. Christmas is called Ganna in the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition, and it is marked by choirs and a candle-lit procession around your local church. Afterwards some people play a sport - also called ganna! - and everyone gets together to eat some traditional food. Check out this beautiful candle procession in Lalibela, Ethiopia.

 

Festive food in Nigeria

Nigerians sure love their food, so on Christmas, expect more than just turkey! Popular festive food could include a twist on jollof rice, and various meat like lamb, chicken, and even goat! It wouldn't be a Nigerian festive spread without jollof and pounded yam, which are also popular. Nigeria is home to hundreds of diverse groups and languages who all celebrate the festive season - if they do - in their own ways. Watch these famous Nigerian singers give a Naija twist to the 12 Days of Christmas!

 

Sunning it in South Africa

 


I know a lot of people wish for a white Christmas, plenty of snow falling everywhere. Well unless you're in Morocco's Atlas Mountains or at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, you're just not going to get that in Africa. But we think a healthy dose of bright sunshine more than makes up for it! South Africa is right in the southern hemisphere, so getting out the beachwear for some seasonal sun is the perfect way to cap off the holidays. Some people even go camping. Well, if the weather is good, we say why not? Listen to this South African take on a festive classic!

Well, we know what we're doing next year! How do you celebrate Christmas? Any unique activities or traditions? Let us know in the comments below!

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