Four interesting West African Christmas traditions

Although the very first version of Christianity was purely western, the religion has greatly evolved to embrace African traditions giving birth to religious ceremonies with a native touch. The following African traditions have successfully taken root in the festivity culture now knocking on our doors!

Yuletide Traditions in West African

Although the roots of this tradition are traced back to German Paganism, a fraction of its practices have been Africanised and assimilated into the West African cultures; eventually finding a strong base in the ‘Yule’ festival that translates to Christmas. One of the most recognisable aspects of Yule over Christmas includes the Yule log – that illustrates the lighting of different sized candles to illuminate the night, and a Yule goat, a modern symbol of a mystical god said to rule over the skies.

Yule

The Bacalao in Guinea Bissau

In Bissau, Christmas must be celebrated with a plate of dried Scandinavian cod fish known as ‘bacalao’. This is special delicacy only makes it to the dining table only on Christmas eve. Christmas is a family affair in Guinea Bissau; a time for sharing.

Bacalao

Ekon Play and Palm Fronds in Nigeria

With all the Western influence, Africa’s largest population pride themselves in century old traditions during the festive period. Nigeria marks Christmas with a balanced mix of antique beliefs and modern day affairs; homes, shops and streets are decorated with palm fronds to symbolise peace while the residents mark the festivity in blasting parties, shopping and gifting. In organised functions, the traditional “Ekon Play” marks the season, after days of prepping up for the entertaining dance.

Palm_frond

Midwives Honored in Ghana

A story is told of Anna, a legendary midwife said to have saved baby Jesus from the cruel King Herod. The festive period which starts as early as on December 20th is marked by endless servings of sumptuous delicacies, traditional liqueur and of course the Ghanaian all-time favorite –fufu. In between the feast and merry-making, the honoured name of Anna comes up as a recognition of all midwives, and the important role they play in the community.

Baby-Jesus