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5 Things Nigerians Still Love About The Christmas Season

5 Things Nigerians Still Love About The Christmas Season

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There is no doubt that for Nigerians, the Christmas season is a very special one. It is the season of the year that feels like a crescendo — as if everything has been racing towards it for the last lap. From the busy markets to the unapologetic indulgence, religious services to the overall feel-good vibe, Christmas in Nigeria is really second to none. 

Growing up in Nigeria, there are several things we looked forward to once the calendar hit December 1. And interestingly, these things are still part of the high point of the Christmas season in this cultural-rich West African nation. No jokes, as time passes and one generation replaces another, we all agree that these to-dos still deserve to be appreciated and tied to our collective culture regardless of tribe, religion, and a ton of other differences.  

Check out 5 things that make Christmas in Nigeria truly special…

#1. The weather

Photo: Button Pusher/Pexels

Yes, harmattan is synonymous with Christmas and Nigerians absolutely love it. Specs of dust punctuate the dry air and when you wake up in the morning, it’s cold. Sometimes, teeth-rattling cold. The afternoons are hot, but the wind frequently blows in an attempt to cool off the sweat the sun had tried so desperately to build up. 

The only downside to this weather is that the dryness takes its toll on your skin and lips (the cracked lips are real). However, with a good dose of moisturizer and a lip balm, nothing can stop your shine (literally).  

#2. Boney M

Photo: Spotify

Boney M never dies in Nigeria, yet they don’t stay for long. Here’s the thing: it completely disappears only to reappear in the Christmas season. We don’t know where it goes; but when it returns, the radio houses start playing the Christmas hits as though they had them on lockdown the entire year.

From Feliz Navidad to Little Drummer Boy, Jingle Bells, and Mary’s Boy Child, both adults and kids can’t hear enough of the melancholic sweetness of this classic musical group. 

 

#3. It’s a fun time for the kids

Photo: Kristina Paukshtite/Pexels

Christmas in Nigeria involves a lot of kids’ entertainment. Many broadcasting companies, amusement parks, schools, and charities will organize kiddies’ Christmas parties and invite the good ol’ Father Christmas. You see, the thing about Nigeria’s Santa Claus is that he looks nothing like the guy you watch in Hollywood movies. He’s black, oftentimes skinny, but still manages to have the iconic big, round belly. He doesn’t go ho, ho, ho, neither does he ask if you’ve been naughty or nice, but he has a big bag of gifts and the kids love that!

The amusement parks are fuller at this time, with Barney cavorting for the benefit of the kids with a permanent grin on his face. And trust me, there will be a plethora of children’s delights – sweets, chocolates, gums, ice creams, toys, whistles, balloons, red hats, etc. Who says kids aren’t thrilled by all that?

#4. The parties

Photo: @ritadominic/Instagram

The lineup of parties during Christmas in Nigeria is unbelievable. But what do you expect when the dry weather collides with the end of the year? Of course, a party galore! Many tailors are often overbooked but a rebellious few, who know that they can’t meet your deadline, will still take your fabrics and promise, “No wahala, I will sew it.” Then they default. You get upset. They promise to do it quickly. They ruin your fabric in haste. And that, my dear, is the story of many severed client-tailor-relationship. 

It’s the season of parties–weddings included, flamboyant clothes, and a pompous attitude to match! There’ll be end-of-year parties, child naming ceremonies or dedications, new-car-purchase festivities, accident-survival parties, housewarming parties, funeral feasts for aged relations, etc. Parties will clash with parties, mingle with parties, and even overlap. And in some places, there will be carnivals, the biggest of which happens in Calabar and which is comparable to carnivals in Rio de Janeiro. Plus, the back-to-back weddings call for some serious aso ebi (design-coded outfits) slay, eating, drinking, celebrating, and partying all night long. Oh, Nigerians sure know how to have fun! 

#5. A trip to the village

Photo: Kaiser Leo Xiv/Pexels

Many people will travel to their villages no matter how distant it is from their urban residences. For many, it is the only time they get to see their ancestral homes, their aged parents, and distant relations. It’s a time for extended family meetings and reunions. During this period, differences can be settled, gifts will be given, and the old will offer advice to the young.

Nigerians in the diaspora also honor this tradition of returning “home” during the season. What also makes the trip to the village simply spectacular are the celebrations and the large meals that accompany them. Many families will kill fowls, goats, and even cows (depending on their financial state) and share the meals among themselves. The village masquerades will come out, the big and the small, weaving in and out of village paths into the village square. Their wooden, toothy, and scary faces will intrigue you; their painted bodies will quiver and rouse your spirit. There’ll be also football matches amongst the village kindred.

On Christmas Day, some will go to church and sing hymns, and on New Year’s Eve, youngsters and adults will “blow knockouts,” aka, firecrackers, ridding themselves of the dying year and its traumas.

What can we say? Christmas in Nigeria can only be experienced to be understood. 

Featured image: @emeliajane_075/Instagram

 


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