An African Christmas

An African Christmas

The Christmas holiday season is the most important holiday and preparations start from the ‘ember’ months – September, October, November and pick up from a few days before Christmas into the New Year. 

Businesses and city life shut down, as most families return to their ancestral villages laden with gifts of food, drinks and clothing for extended family members in the village. 

Mothers would have searched for and shopped for ‘Christmas outfits’ for every child in their immediate and extended families starting from October. The clothes would be left unworn until Christmas day. That meant about 3 months of excitement for us kids as we waited for the day we would be seen in our new clothes and shoes. 

If a child didn’t receive new clothes during the year, it was sure that they would receive something new for Christmas. 

The week of Christmas was a busy period filled with shopping for foodstuff and cooking to cater for the extended family and friends that will undoubtedly come around during the festivities and would need to be fed. 

 Christmas season in Africa symbolizes the importance of community and tradition, with family reunions filled with shared laughter and storytelling.  

The festive season is marked by traditional celebrations, including music, dance, delicious dishes, and creating a joyous atmosphere. Gift giving was different from the Western custom of receiving wishes and requests written on a list, our gifts consisted more of necessary items such as clothing and shoes or other basic requirements. Occasionally, in addition to these basics, we received bicycles, books and other coveted items. These gifts symbolized our parents' commitment to care for and provide for us. 

Kate Spain's "Joy" pattern was a natural choice for our African Christmas Challenge because it represents Christmas without leaning on the popular symbols of Christmas traditions – green & red colors, Santa Claus, stockings, the snowman, candy cane, holly, wreaths, pine trees are foreign to an African Christmas and would not have accurately expressed the tropical and more cultural African Christmas season. 

Christmas stocking quilt africa fabrics
Photo Credit: Judy Marks

It centers more on the Joy of Christmas, celebrating the core values of Christmas - family, friends, cherished traditions, and heartfelt gatherings. 

 It evokes the warmth of togetherness, the happiness of meaningful gifts, and the majesty of the birth of Christ embodied in the carols sung with loved ones. 

I wanted to share an authentic Christmas in Africa which is about the thriving of our cultural heritage, the emphasis on family and fostering stronger communal ties, as well as the universal values of love, unity, and kindness. 

Kate Spain's "Joy" pattern reminds us to focus on Christmas's true essence, the Joy of the gift of Jesus to the world, the love of family and quick readiness to spread joy and cheer to everyone around us. 

Join The African Christmas Challenge HERE 

Photo of the African Christmas kit by Nancy Gaudet-Martin

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