NAIJA GOOD: CHRISTMAS/NEW YEAR CELEBRATION IN NIGERIA
“CHRISTMAS” is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. These celebration have been carried on for so many centuries in many countries including NIGERIA.
CHRISTMAS is on the 25th of December followed by “BOXING DAY” on the 26th; A day where gifts are wrapped and shared.
When this time approaches every organization rounds up their yearly routine, schools vacate and decorations fill up. It is a period everyone looks forward to because almost immediately after Christmas celebration is a new year which everyone -Christians or non-Christians celebrate.
These are ways that this period stands out in Nigeria:
1) PUBLIC HOLIDAY: First of, the government declares a public holiday on the 25th and 26th for the Celebration.
2) GIFTS: Most organizations package gifts for their workers to take home during this season, it is usually in a gift basket holding items such as: A bottle of wine, butter, oil, groundnut, cookies, seasoning cubes, a pack of cereals, cookies, sugar cubes etc.
The military even give out rice and cow meat.
3) LEAVE/VACATION/TRAVELLING: During this season, Schools round up their term and go on a long vacation, parents also seek for LEAVE from their place of work and travel with their children.
A lot of people travel to their village during the Yuletide; people go to their village or just get away from the area they have been in all year to probably another city or even country.
Individuals are really grateful when this Leaves are granted. Nigerians wait all year till this period to travel.
4) FESTIVALS/STREET JAM/MASQURADE DISPLAY: Don’t be alarmed when you see a heavily and hugely costumed person roaming around the streets of cities like Lagos. During this period a lot of streets will be filled with performers carrying out different displays from daytime to midnight as local artistes show off their art and masquerades display.
5) NEW HAIRDO AND WEARS: Parents spend a lot during this festive season shopping for new clothes and preparing new hairstyles for themselves and their children
Fondly called -“Christmas Hair and Christmas Clothes”, they are readily done before the 25th or before travelling and it’s usually a big deal. The hairdo and wears this season are GO BIG, OR GO HOME.
6) FATHER CHRISTMAS: In Nigeria, Father Christmas is a man putting on a replica of the SANTA CLAUS costume, mostly organized by schools before vacation and churches too. Children are on Cloud nine as they go to their parents to ask for “Father Christmas fee”. Children go to sit on his lap and he gives them gifts.
(Done in many other countries as well).
Here in Nigeria, gifts packs are already prepared with same content for every child and when a child sits -pictures would be taken by a photographer as the gift is being given.
This year, youths have gone around jesting and differentiating between -“Santa Claus” and “Sapa Claus”. One way or another, it fuels and brings more awareness to the custom.
7) CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, TREES, DECORATIONS: Christmas is accorded the title, “the most beautiful time of the year” because, different decorations are bought, including Christmas trees. (Pine, the customary Christmas tree is not found in Nigerian forests; So, we buy the artificial ones from stores). They would be hung around in the house, parlour and entrance. The most beautiful thing you see is when you go out and streets, billboards, buildings and signs are decorated with lights and colourful ornaments that signifies the unity in Celebration. Sometimes it’s almost like a warming competition as you would think you have seen the best decoration till you set your eye on another.
8) CHRISTMAS CAROL: Mostly organised in churches, a hour or more to sing Christmas songs never hurts. A night is picked before Christmas and the awareness and appreciation of the birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated.
9) FIREWORKS/FIRECRACKERS/KNOCKOUT/BANGER/ “INA OLORUN”:This marks the season for these items, stores would stock up and young Nigerians would buy, especially the boys.
Although banned in some states, from the first of December the sounds of the Bangers would remind you of the preparations to come.
This is one of my favorite childhood christmas memories, you could be at home anywhere but could hear the sounds of these Knockouts. “Ina Olorun” as we called a little firecracker stick, would be lit with matches, held up, then thrown down out of fear and excitement. Same with banger.
If you want to see a full Firework display, wait till New Year. I saw mine every year at PRAYER CITY LAGOS Watch Night/ Cross Over Service to the new year. Immediately it is 00:00am, accompanied with screams from fellow church members -“HAPPY NEW YEAR!!” comes the fireworks full display up in the sky. It’s always beautiful.
10) VISIT/OUTING: Parks, Restaurants, Museums, Zoos are usually parked during the Christmas and New Year. Events are made for this purpose and even Artistes holds concerts to crown their year’s run. Packs of friends, families, couples would be seen leaving their houses in beautiful hairdos and garments to see one of these things. It’s usually rowdy but for one purpose.
11) FOOD PREPARATION: Let’s now talk about the Jollof Rice and Chicken during the Christmas season, for some reason it tastes better. Children highlight this moment. Adults too (especially males). Live chickens would be tied around and there would be a lot of plucking, boiling, frying, chopping and stirring going on. The female child always has her hands full in these scenes.
Fondly called “Christmas Rice”, it could be jollof, fried or white with fried meat, there could be Pounded yam with Native soup but it is mostly rice. Everyone can almost not wait for the big pot to be ready. Most homes pick a day for cooking and another for going out.
Let’s not forget your neighbors who also bring their prepared meal in trays and glasses and you would also give them yours. Still don’t understand the exchange of food but the assorted dishes would just be flowing.
12) Many people pick the end of the year to visit homes, the needy, orphans, hospitals. Done by individuals and organizations, foodstuffs, items and even quantities from the goods they sell are arranged and given to circulate the cheerful spirit across and beyond.
Everyone looks forward to this period, it not only signifies the end of a year’s hard work but also administering a culture of cheer, love and unity that comes with the reason for the celebration.
Nigeria celebrates in style and uniquely. Thus, NAIJA GOOD.
"..of music & fried meat. You will sleep through half of it, wake up to your cousins jumping on your bed. Your family will watch the same movie you watch every year & your mother will fall asleep on your shoulder -soft, delicate, body burning hot from fever but she will still be there.
This poem sums and captivates our NAIJA GOOD article for the year. READ FULL POEM HERE!