It’s that time of year again! When we get to eat all the jollof rice and chicken we can handle, dance to the latest Naija beats, and exchange gifts with our loved ones.
Yes, it’s Christmas time in Naija, and we no dey carry last when celebrating this fantabulous holiday. For many Nigerians, the holiday season is marked by a few typical customs, and If you’re new to Naija or just need a refresher on how to celebrate Christmas Naija-style, we’ve got you covered. Here are some traditions all Nigerians can identify with to make the most of this festive season…
What is Christmas in Nigeria without decorations? How else will we set the mood? Whether in Churches, residential homes, or Organizations, Nigerians look forward to lavishly decorating for Christmas, much like people do in most other nations.
Families decorate windows or doors with golden balls, ribbons, and lighting strings. Let’s remember the most important decoration found in most homes, the Christmas tree. Major office buildings and shopping centres are lit up for Christmas, and the main streets are beautifully adorned. The Christmas decorations add to the Christmas cheer, with different Christmas songs playing. What a way to set the mood.
Christmas clothes and hair
Nigerians looking good, especially for a worldwide celebration such as Christmas, go hand in hand. Trust them to go all out when shopping for the most exquisite clothing on Christmas Day. This important tradition increases the festive fun and excitement.
However, we must remember the biggest stakeholder in Christmas attire, hairstyles, footwear, etc., is children. Families have a budget set aside for buying things for their kids, and they certainly look forward to it. As a parent, you dare not miss this most important activity.
No better time to taste the original Naija jollof rice than during the Christmas season. Of course, other varieties, like jollof rice, are prepared during a funeral or wedding party, but Christmas Jollof rice remains the best.
Friends ask the most common questions during this period: “Where is the location?” or “Where is my Christmas rice?” Having rice on hand for visitors who call on you for Christmas is a national tradition, and it is frequently served in large coolers along with numerous additional side dishes. Depending on what the family can afford, the rice can be topped with chicken or goat meat and served with additional appetizers or desserts. As mentioned above, rice prepared on Christmas Day usually has a distinct yummy taste, and every Nigerian can testify to this. The extra seasoning is indeed in the season.
Knock-outs and fireworks
Nigerians commonly refer to fireworks or firecrackers as “knock-out or bangers”. Almost every Nigerian sets off different fireworks during this period. Typically, it begins on Christmas Eve and lasts until the New year. Some families go so far as to purchase bigger fireworks, hold a small ceremony, record videos, and post them online or on their family pages. Smaller kids often use the tradition to pull practical jokes on passersby by throwing the firecracker around them when they’re not looking. The tradition is thrilling because of the lights and adrenaline rush accompanying the knock-outs. It’s also a sound we are all pleased with and usually look forward to.
Traditionally, most Nigerian kids’ primary expectation on Christmas Day is a visit from “Father Christmas,” who will bring them gifts and goody bags. Father Christmas is usually invited by churches, schools, organizations, and even bigger families, where he’s then placed in a room, and the children are brought to him to receive their gifts.
Most Nigerian kids are usually traumatized during this activity because, trust me, Father Christmas is so different from Santa Claus, and we’re honestly cool with that. It’s all part of the process. Nowadays, most workplaces hold “Secret Santa” gatherings for adults where employees exchange gifts and make Santa wish lists. The good news is that both concepts—aside from the name confusion—are the same.
Christmas rice must be served with either chicken or turkey. Many families kill the chicken themselves, while some prefer dressed ones. Dressing the chicken and cooking is one activity that strengthens special family bonds in Naija because all hands are usually on deck, and lots of conversations and inside jokes happen during this time.
Many organizations offer carol services for interested employees. Churches usually set up carol services for their members and any other person that finds their way to Church. Food, dancing, games, and singing are some of the activities included in this service. It’s indeed a season to be jolly!