I have no recollection of what Christmas is like in Nigeria. While we were in Nigeria recently, I went to a bank in Lagos and it was decorated for Christmas, with a tree and everything. Living in Nigeria between the ages of nearly three years old to age six, I can’t remember if we set up a tree and put presents under it, like we do in North America. I don’t recall a turkey (is it a Christmas goat instead?). I’m still trying to wrap my head around the question that haunts me: can Christmas still happen if the temperature is more than five degrees above zero Celcius? (The jury is still out on that.) Living in this frozen tundra has changed what I require for it to feel like Christmas.
Needless to say, I’ve always felt that the way we celebrate Christmas here is the “North American” way of doing Christmas, with a few Nigerian elements (um, mostly food elements) but other than that, it seems pretty much like what you’d expect (based on books and television). Any changes that have been made are only to accommodate the fact that we no longer believe in Santa Claus (I’m not sure I ever did, but I know we tried to keep the lie alive for a long time for my brothers); and the fact that we would all rather sleep in than wake up at the crack of dawn to open presents that will still be waiting for us, whether we wake up at six o’clock or 11 o’clock in the morning.
A typical Christmas Day in my household:
- everyone wakes up by noon at the very latest. There will usually have been lots of yelling to make sure that everyone is awake. The turkey is put in the oven
- We say a prayer, usually led by my father, thanking God for seeing us through another year.
- we argue about the best way to open gifts: should we each open a gift? Should everyone collect their gifts from under the tree and open at their own speed? What about the stockings, hung by the chimney with care? Should their contents be examined before or after the main gifts are dealt with?
- gifts are opened, gratitude is expressed, many pictures are snapped. The elder of my two younger brothers invariably says something to the effect that he doesn’t appreciate any of the gifts he received, sparking another argument
- My dad and I collect the wrapping paper for the recycling box and things for the garbage
- Everyone goes off to eat or chill in their room; a very lazy day ensues
- We eat a delicious dinner that always includes turkey, stuffing (my favourite!), mashed potatoes and vegetables. Nigerian additions to the meal are usually things like dodo, moin moin or other side dishes. If we have dinner guests (my parents like to invite people who don’t have anyone to celebrate with to dine with us), then we might include more food options (stew, rice, eba, etc.)
- dessert is always pie, which I think the family does on purpose because they know I don’t like it
- we all collapse in tryptophan-induced comas
- What makes Christmas in Nigeria (your part of Nigeria or more generally) unique?
- What is YOUR Christmas like? Has it changed depending on where you live?
Want my monthly messages?
Subscribe for a monthly, often personal, message from Good Naija Girl.