Christmas in Africa is usually festive, loud, and colorful. It is a very intense period, especially when the mood is activated.

It’s also essential to note that Christmas in Africa differs from country to country as traditions performed in every country in Africa vary with little or no similarities. 

In the same light, Christmas in Nigeria is a huge celebration for all, not only those who belong to the Christian faith. In truth, Christmas in Nigeria is many things, but its shrill message of family bond and togetherness is continual every year.

There is no such thing as doing too much when celebrating Christmas in Nigeria, rather, being “extra” is how you have a good Christmas in Nigeria.

Here are 6 things particular to Christmas in Nigeria;

Christmas Cloth

Nigerians are known to go all out on shopping for the holidays, and most importantly, they select the most gorgeous of all apparel to wear on the 25th of December.

Especially for children, “Christmas Cloth” is a major part of the Nigerian Christmas tradition. In fact, for some, without it, there is probably no Christmas. My siblings and I had special clothes that we wore on Christmas day while growing up, either for the church service or to hang out with. 

Even though we don’t bother much about it these days, Nigerians are known to shop during the holidays for outfits to wear regardless of their financial status.

This is a Nigerian Christmas culture that is still very popular to date. Some families go all out to make custom designs, identical fabrics for every single member of the family.

The display of colorful attire is always the highlight of the day, everyone trying to outshine the other by wearing elaborate styles when they go visiting on that day. It all adds to the holiday fun and excitement.

Christmas Rice

Some people can still live without getting a Christmas cloth, but you see Christmas rice…ahh! E go hard. “5 out of 5 families in Nigeria have rice for Christmas”.

The idea of Christmas rice has become a tradition in the country. You hear friends asking each other, “Where is my Christmas rice?” or making such comments as “I will visit you for my Christmas rice.”

Whether it is jollof rice, fried rice, coconut rice, or white rice, it doesn’t matter. The main deal is that rice is available for guests when they call on you for Christmas.

The rice can be garnished with chicken, goat meat and combined with other appetizers or desserts, depending on what the family can afford.

This is also the reason why some companies gift their workers with rice and oil before the holiday.

Fun Fact: Christmas day is one of the days you can get the ”almighty” Nigeria Jollof for free?

Bangers or Knock-outs

Knock-out is the popular phrase Nigerians use for firecrackers and bangers. The craze around these bangers starts a day or two days before the actual Christmas day, sometimes during Christmas eve, depending on the neighborhood where you live.

I was in Lagos on the 4th of December and I saw people already “throwing their knockout”

Some families make a ceremony out of it, making videos and posting them online or on their family pages.

Smaller children tend to take advantage of the custom to play pranks on passersby, throwing the firecracker around them while they least suspect it.

They are used to gracefully mark Christmas day, the lights and rush of adrenalin that comes with the knock-outs is what makes the tradition so exciting.

Father Christmas

”Mommy, I want to see father Christmas” is one tune parents can’t stop hearing during the Christmas season from their children/ward.

The idea of Santa started creeping into the country from American media and citizens who have migrated into the country.

Now, offices have ‘Secret Santa’ events where people exchange gifts, write Santa lists and families take their children dressed in new outfits to see Santa Claus.

The good thing is that both concepts are the same, except for the mix up with names.

Christmas Tree and Decoration 

Like most other countries of the world, Nigerians go all out with Christmas decorations. It does not only end with families putting up Christmas trees in their home and draping their windows with gold balls and strings of light. The major streets and boulevards are also decorated elaborately, and major shopping malls, as well as office buildings, sparkling with Christmas lights. People go further to excel in the spirit of the holiday.

Village Trips

In Nigeria, people travel every day, but the rate at which people travel during Christmas can’t be overemphasized ”e be like Lagos traffic”. During this period most Nigerians find their way back to their hometown to celebrate with extended families. Although this most particular to the ibos, this is also a regular practice amongst other tribes. 

People are always determined to travel back home, and for some it’s a must; nothing can stop them, not even a hike in fuel price.

Written by : Samuel Nkume

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