Christmas in Nigeria

By Abiade Zainab

As Christmas is around the corner and people around the world are preparing to celebrate Christmas with family, friends, and loved ones, I would like to share with you how Christmas is celebrated in Nigeria. Although half of the population in Nigeria is Muslim, almost everybody celebrates Christmas in Nigeria despite differences in beliefs.

xmas in LAg

As most people know Christmas is celebrated on December 25, to remember the birth of Jesus Christ and people celebrate Christmas in different ways. In Nigeria there are so many cultures and different types of Churches. It depends on what part of Nigeria you are from, what church you go to, and personal choices if and how you would celebrate Christmas. Few churches in Nigeria don’t celebrate Christmas.

In general a few days before Christmas people that live in the big cities such as Lagos, and Abuja travel back to their village or the city they were born in, to celebrate Christmas with their parents. Sometimes they invite their family over to visit and celebrate Christmas with them in the city.

Calabar Carnival

On Christmas Eve, most families start to prepare for Christmas day by slaughtering a cow or chicken, they start cooking because they don’t want to be busy preparing food all day. This way they can have time to catch up and talk with their family. People in Nigeria also prepare food in large quantities because they give food to their neighbors and they also receive food from their neighbors. Food common on that day is Jollof rice, fried rice, meat, salad, and drinks. On Christmas Eve most people decide to collect their traditional clothes from tailors, it is a general idea that you wear new clothes, a different hairstyle, and if one can afford to buy new shoes or just bring out the old shoes you wore last Christmas. In the evening you go to church and enjoy the special Christmas service. Most children love to play with firecrackers from midnight to the following day.

On Christmas day, the rooster sound wakes you up very early in the morning, and the aroma of food fills the air. The excitement of putting on your new clothes makes you very happy to get dressed up and look nice. Then you attend church service and after church you eat, move around with some of your friends going from one house to another. There you are given money as gifts, just to say thank you for coming on such a special day. Some parents decide to take their little children to visit Father Christmas and after that go to the amusement park. You pretty much end the day tired or wishing it never ends.

Just in case you have a Nigerian friend and you are wondering how you could say to him or her Merry Christmas; in Nigerian language, Yoruba, you say, “E KU ODUN”, in Igbo you say, “E KERESIMESI,” and in Hausa you say, “BARKA DA KRISIMATI.”

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