Christmas is around the corner, providing us with the much-needed break from uni. Hallelujah, or in my case, Alhamdulilah (I’m Muslim). Today, I am going to talk about how my family and I celebrate “Christmas”. For those of you stuck in The Netherlands, here is a read to transport you to the tropics.
Almost every winter break, I escape the cold by going to The Gambia, where I spend Christmas and start the New Year. Imagine 25-degree weather, the beach 5 mins away, good food, and being around family and friends. Jealous?
The Gambia is a country with 95% Muslims. You would think that we wouldn’t celebrate Christmas. And technically we "don’t", we just party on the day. In The Gambia it is a big part of our culture that different tribes and religions get along. So when Eid (it's a Muslim Holiday) comes around, Christians celebrate with us and when it is Christmas, we celebrate with them. Basically, Gambians will find any excuse to party. I can’t complain because I get to celebrate all the holidays.
Going back to my Christmas. So, there is obviously no school, so that’s great. We usually prep the food the day prior so there isn't much to do on the day itself. The only thing to do is to cook the food and serve. I am usually not the one doing this because my mom lets me off the hook since I am technically on holiday.
Around 5 pm to 6 pm, we “kids'' start getting ready, a chance to go all out, wear your best outfit. Then we get to snack; spring rolls (I don’t know why we eat this but my family just makes it), chicken nuggets, meat pies (If you are British, it isn't what you think, Google Nigerian Meat pies, then you'll see what they look like). I can’t forget the sweet chili sauce (I love sweet chilli sauce, I could marry that stuff).
Music, of course, you gotta have that Afro beats. I’ll put a list of afro-beats classics for those of you who want to expand their genres and get a bit cultured).
Because we are half-Dutch, we mix Sinterklaas with Christmas, sometimes we even mix Easter traditions with Christmas (I have no idea why). Sometimes we have a scavenger hunt for presents. We have this instead of a Christmas tree. This is just my family, nothing really makes sense but it’s usually fun.
I think the best part of my “Christmas” is when my mom does her thing; It is a tradition that my mother dresses up as the weirdest version of Santa, I have no idea where she gets the costume(s) which always change. She puts clothes under her shirt to resemble a beer belly, wears a lopsided wig, boots (even in 25-degree weather) and sings weird and random songs. Moms, I am right? (Or is it just mine?)
My family is definitely not a representation of Gambian families. I have no clue how the rest of the country celebrates Christmas, I am always at my house for “Christmas”.
To end, I would like to thank y’all for reading about my crazy Christmas. I hope that this article has been able to show you that different cultures and even people within those different cultures, all have different ways of celebrating the holidays. Oh yeah, here is the Afrobeats list I promised:
Soco - Wizkid
Pull over - Kcee ft. Wizkid
Skelewu - Davido
Azonto - Fuse ODG ft. Tiffany
Aye - Davido
Johnny - Yemi Alade