Courtesy of
Courtesy of

Festive lights and the exchange of presents are not just limited to the United States when it comes to Christmas.

In different countries all across the African continent, the holiday season is well observed with social gatherings, festive storefront and home decorations, warm meals and lots of presents.

In fact, in Senegal, which is an Islamic state, the joyous day is still revered and observed as a national holiday, as many Africans support religious tolerance.

In Ghana and South Africa, Christmas carols are ever so popular, and in Egypt and Ethiopia, Coptic Christians celebrate according to the Julian calendar — which means that although they celebrate on Dec. 25, that date usually translates to Jan. 7 on the Gregorian calendar.

In Malawi, groups of small children go door to door to perform dances and Christmas songs, accompanied by homemade instruments, for monetary donations. In the Gambia, people parade with large lanterns called fanals, made in the shape of boats or houses.

When it comes to dining in, fattened goats are always a popular pick, unless you hail from Liberia, where rice, beef and biscuits are the order of the day.

Every country has its own unique celebration, but for all those wondering, Kwanzaa — a unique U.S. celebration — is not one of them!

Give a Little ‘Hello’ This Holiday Season

Need to say “Merry Christmas” in another language? Try these fun cultural holiday expressions to delight your African friends this Christmas season:

In Akan (Ghana): Afishapa

In Shona (Zimbabwe): Muve neKisimusi

In Afrikaans (South Africa): Geseënde Kersfees

In Zulu (South Africa): Sinifisela Ukhisimusi Omuhle

In Swazi (Swaziland): Sinifisela Khisimusi Lomuhle

In Sotho (Lesotho): Matswalo a Morena a Mabotse

In Swahili (Tanzania, Kenya): Kuwa na Krismasi njema

In Amharic (Ethiopia): Melkam Yelidet Beaal

In Egyptian Arabic (Egypt): Colo sana wintom tiebeen

In Yoruba (Nigeria): E ku odun, e hu iye’ dun

Christmas Comes Early to the African Diaspora

Dancing while donating during Christmas, the African Diaspora Alliance, a nonprofit founded by two millennial Baltimore activists who experienced firsthand the dearth of African Diaspora history in public and private school curricula and opportunities for Black youth to study abroad, is “turning up” for a cause.

Collaborating to donate over 75 survival kits to keep people warm this holiday season, members of the organization and extended volunteers took part in collecting everyday items, including slightly worn clothes and unopened hygiene items, from community members and businesses at a special holiday event at Johnny Pistolas in northwest D.C. on Dec. 17.

During the holiday jingle, members and participants assembled the donations into personalized survival kits for families affected by Hurricane Maria in the Dominica and needy families in Baltimore City. The event also included free drinks, games and a little charity turn-up.

Lauren Poteat is a versatile writer with a strong background in communications and media experience with an additional background in education and development.

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