Christmas memories in Africa

Joseph and Mary statues at Christmas

Africa has been influenced by Christianity since at least the first century AD. Whether church services are held on Christmas eve or Christmas morning, families gather to share the joy of the Saviour's birth.

Here, some of our members share their favourite Christmas memories and traditions.

Thembelihle Pearl Cindi

When we celebrate Christmas, we gather as a family: my mother, sister and I and our children.

On Christmas day, we switch on the Christmas tree, and prepare food, drinks and a delicious dessert.

The children change to new clothes and we also buy clothes for children of other families that we know are in need.

We also buy everyone in the family Christmas presents. The cost of the presents is shared by those family members who can afford to pay for them.

Sandile Makasi

Although I did not grow up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Christmas has always been a special day in our family.

As children, we got to wear brand new clothes on Christmas day.  We were taught that the sun danced on Christmas day, so we would wake up early in the morning and wait for the sun to rise. The sun would never dance and after some years I realized that this was a way to get us to wake up early so we could help with preparing our family’s traditional Christmas lunch. The lunch took place at my grandmother’s home and my grandmother, great-grandmother, uncle, aunt, cousins, my mom and siblings would gather together to enjoy a special lunch. The lunch was especially exciting for me because there would be a variety of delicious foods and puddings and it was one of the only times that we prayed together as family each year.

On Christmas day, we also had a tradition of going from house to house to “ask for Christmas”. As one would enter a neighbour’s home after saying they were “asking for Christmas”, you would get sweets and food or anything they could offer you. It was also a pleasure to see my mom give out sweets and food to neighbours.  

Now, as a young father, my wife and I continue the same tradition and we also follow Christmas Advent calendar where in the run up to Christmas day, we watch videos and read scriptures to our children to teach them about the birth of Jesus Christ. Last Christmas was a big highlight because we took part in the #LightTheWorld campaign and on one of the days my daughters and I visited a widow who lives at our apartment building and gave her a Christmas card and a Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas edition CD.  Doing this was so heart-warming and the lady was so touched by this gesture.

Raisibi Caroline Mabula

Christmas eve was shopping time – buying food and clothes for all the children.  First priority was school clothes and then clothes to wear to church.  Preparation included slaughtering a sheep or chicken to have for lunch.  After breakfast, we would all get dressed in our new clothes.

All the neighbourhood children would go from house to house to show their new clothes.

Everyone in the family would be invited to grandmother’s house for lunch. 

Muriel Mushariwe

Our Christmas traditions when l was young involved first going to church in the morning where my grandmother would read the story of Jesus’s birth to the children. I remember a Christmas tree without any fancy decorations but ribbons and flowers.

After church we would go home to prepare for Christmas lunch. Chicken and rice was served. (Chicken and rice was always reserved for special occasions growing up). After lunch we would get to open our presents which were always brand new clothes usually for church.  I remember my grandfather buying me a cute little blue dress, and my mother says l wore this dress for days!

My grandparents had seven children and Christmas was all about spending time together as a family at their house.