Heri Ya Krismasi (Happy Holidays) from Asante Africa!

Dec 11 2019

Christmas is widely celebrated in East Africa where Christianity is the dominant religion in both Kenya and Tanzania. Holiday traditions are unique to the region’s culture and customs. Instead of snowmen, mistletoe, and eggnog, there are African dishes like Pilau and a strong emphasis on religion. The holiday mood can start around November and Christmas trees may be found in malls. Some families with young children might even cut fresh pine trees to decorate. Although the tradition of Christmas trees is not a common one, a similar practice that East Africans might have with those in the United States is that trees may be kept long after the holidays until they have wither!

In school settings, there are not many Christmas traditions since schools are off for most of December. However, administrators in boarding schools may change routine such as the type of meals served to fit the holiday. Popular African dishes like roasted rice and meat are considered a luxury and when it gets served on rare occasions like Christmas, students get excited over the special meal. Chapatis are also considered a luxury food that gets associated with the holiday, especially in rural areas where many may not be able to afford them on a normal day.

In school settings, there are not many Christmas traditions since schools are off for most of December. However, administrators in boarding schools may change routine such as the type of meals served to fit the holiday. Popular African dishes like roasted rice and meat are considered a luxury and when it gets served on rare occasions like Christmas, students get excited over the special meal. Chapatis are also considered a luxury food that gets associated with the holiday, especially in rural areas where many may not be able to afford them on a normal day.

Judica, Tanzania Student, with her siblings

Gift exchange is not a common activity and while Boxing Day is observed, it is celebrated mainly as a day to stay at home and rest. Families may visit their extended family members and friends on Boxing Day while Christmas Day is meant to spend time with nuclear family members. There is not a strong emphasis on gifts and decorations. Similar to what some of our Asante Africa Scholars had mentioned for their Christmas holiday break plans, people mainly focus on being with their family, being back in their community, and perhaps working on their goals.

Manuella, Kenya Student, 5th Grade

“Sharon plans to visit hospitals and pray for the sick. She also hopes to attend some youth seminars.”

“Vivian plans to assist her sister with beading to earn some money to put in her savings account.”

“Moris plans to start a chicken project to help his family.”

“Kelvin plans to write poems, visit friends, and watch movies.”

“Manuella plans to help at home by taking care of the animals.”

Christmas celebrations from around the world are diverse in their traditions, but activities always seem to include enjoying good food and spending time at home with family. If you want to learn more about East Africa and how to support our education programs in Kenya and Tanzania, visit our site and consider us for your holiday contributions!

Written by Genevieve Chan