As you have been untangling your holiday lights and unpacking the tree topper, you have probably wondered that classic Christmas question . . . . "How does
Africa decorate for Christmas?" Well, even if you have not asked yourself this, you can store this holiday tidbit in your random facts file.
In a land where many people do not have electricity, Christmas lights and motorized, inflatable lawn decorations are not part of the African holiday landscape. Furthermore, since many rural Africans still cook and heat their homes with firewood, dragging a tree home may feel more like their daily chore vs the holiday spirit. Yet, throughout Africa, Christmas is a BIG event filled with festivities and decorations.
First of all, Mother Nature does most of the outdoor holiday decorating with blossoms. There is even one tree that blooms red in December that is called 'The Christmas Tree". When it comes to indoor décor, colorful, flashy foil decorations shimmering in the African sun provide enough sparkle to warm the heart of any scrooge. This foil Christmas decoration tradition was a cultural import from the British during Africa's colonial years. Holiday foil garland drapes from walls, ceilings and windshields in Africa from December all the way to . . to . . (well, sometimes it is never taken down so Christmas cheer can be a year-long event.)
There are three holiday traditions that Africa and America share: food, family and friends. The juiciest fruits and the fattest chickens are now being picked, plucked and prepared from markets for Christmas feasts throughout Africa. Few gifts, other than the company of loved ones, are exchanged. Instead, family and friends will gather in sitting rooms and share a Christmas meal, no matter how meager or magnificent it may be.
This year, if you have not had time to go shopping or to set up your motion activated Disco Santa scene, have no fear. Just head to the kitchen to go nuts with a pair of scissors and tin foil, eat as much as you can, share some moments with loved ones, and have a shimmering African Christmas!