Christmas Celebration in African Countries

Africa has a significant Christian population, with almost half the continent’s residents adhering to the faith. The celebration of Christmas is a major event in Africa, and it is reflected in the way people celebrate the holiday. Unlike in Western countries, where Christmas is associated with cold weather, Christmas in Africa is marked with vivid colours and brightness due to the warm climate.

Africans are renowned for their ability to fuse their indigenous customs and unique activities into the holiday season, making it a truly special and unique experience. Here are five Christmas traditions you can find in Africa:

  •  Christmas Decorations

In some African countries, Christmas decorations include lights, ornaments, and trees. Plastic or non-traditional trees are also used rather than the classic, freshly cut pine trees. West African countries like Nigeria decorate the streets with ribbons, and larger establishments have more elaborate decorations.

  • Church Services and Carols

In Africa, Christmas celebrations include church services and carol singing, with variations depending on the country and congregation. In West Africa, generally, carol songs and nativity plays are common, while in the Congo, locals exchange gifts and organise musical events. Malawian children perform carols in exchange for cash donations, and in Zambia, churches stage nativity plays as locals sing carols in the streets. Notably, Egyptian Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7th, following the Coptic calendar.

  • Family Time

During Christmas time in Africa, families come together to celebrate the holiday season. In South Africa, holiday traditions centre around family gatherings and spending quality time with relatives. The festive atmosphere is filled with laughter, love, and warmth, making it a truly special time of year.

  • Christmas Feasts
Jollof rice
Jollof rice

Typically, African Christmas celebrations are marked by families preparing their signature dishes. In West Africa, a popular choice is jollof rice, whereas in East Africa, sourdough flatbread, known as injera, is commonly made.


South African families come together for Christmas braais (barbecues) featuring meat, salads, and desserts. Similarly, in Kenya, families enjoy Nyama choma (roasted meat) and other local delicacies. Ugandans celebrate with family gatherings and indulge in dishes such as pilau (spiced rice).

  • Gift giving

Giving is a widespread tradition in many cultures, symbolising love and generosity. Communities unite to share resources, support those in need, and donate to churches and orphanages. In Africa, new clothes are a popular gift. People often wear them to church on Christmas Day, adding to the festive atmosphere.

Christmas is that time of the year when Africans who celebrate come together to be joyful with their families and loved ones, and you are sure to experience one or all of these activities in an African home.

Season greetings to you!

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