The Christmas Spirit In Kenya

Kenya is geographically situated in the eastern part of the African continent and shares borders with Uganda, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Tanzania. Its capital city is Nairobi, with Mombasa and Kisumu as the other three cities. Kenya consists of over 42 different tribal groups, making it a diverse society with a diverse culture. Thus, Christmas traditions aren’t the same, although most practices are shared across the different tribes.

For instance, it’s the tradition of many Kenyans to travel to their rural homes to meet up with other family members irrespective of their tribal orientation. Many Kenyans travel during the eve of Christmas day from the urban areas where they stay and work. It’s usually the only period of the year when members of the extended family meet to celebrate the festive season together. It’s the tradition of many Kenyans to be present in church on Christmas morning, and everybody, particularly children, put on new clothes (nguo za Krismas) for the event.

In Swahili, a national language in Kenya, Merry Christmas is “Heri ya Krismasi,” and you are supposed to reply with “Wewe pia,” meaning (to you also). So, what are the Christmas traditions in Kenya? In this post, you’ll find some of the most common practices Kenyans have during the Christmas season.

A few of them include:

  • Midnight church mass service during the eve of Christmas.
  • Preparation of a traditional delicacy referred to as Nyama Choma.
  • Decoration of churches, homes, business areas with Christmas trees.

Christmas Eve

Since time immemorial, it has been a Kenyan tradition to organize and attend midnight church mass services, commonly referred to by the locals as “Kesha.” The mass usually takes place just before midnight of the Christmas day kicking off. Therefore, attendees of the mass service start streaming into churches as early as 8 in the evening on Christmas eve. The mass entails reciting Christmas carols, praising songs, poems, and even dancing.

Apart from the Christian celebrations that get held on the eve of Christmas day, many Kenyans have family celebrations on Christmas day. These celebrations, in most cases, begin a few days before and extend up to the actual Christmas day. They include preparing delicious Christmas meals and taking traditional brews. Families gather together and enjoy the festive moments by dancing, eating together, and giving out presents to one another.

Kenyan Santa Claus

In the Kenyan Christmas tradition, Santa Claus is an individual known as Father Christmas. Like Santa Claus, he is often an older man wearing red Christmas attire and tasked with delivering Christmas presents on Christmas Eve. Some of the gifts given out by Father Christmas include toys and candies for well-mannered children. Besides, it’s common in urban areas to find a group of people singing Christmas carols from house to house on Christmas Eve. The owners of each house often give a present (usually cash) to the singers, and on Christmas day, the group presents what they collect to churches to help the needy in society. However, the present giving tradition isn’t as popular as it is in the Western parts of the world. Instead, Kenyans focus more on having memorable family moments, church mass services, and holding various celebrations to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Christmas Decorations

Christmas decorations common among Kenyans include the use of flowers, colourful ribbons, balloons, paper decorations, lights, and decorative leaves. Cyprus trees are also commonly used as Christmas tree decorations to substitute the Evergreen firs known to serve that purpose. Besides, big shopping malls sometimes install fake snow and Father Christmas (Santa Claus).

Christmas Meals

The most popular Christmas meal in Kenya is Nyama Choma, a term that refers to the local delicacy of either barbecued beef, chicken, goat, or sheep. Usually, Kenyans serve Nyama Choma with rice, ugali (Swahili name for a meal made from maize flour), or pilau (a Swahili meal made from rice flavoured with spices). Kenyans also have the tradition of taking local brews during Christmas to boost their festive moods. A popular local beer used by many Kenyan people is known as ‘Changaa.’ Overall, Kenyan Christmas traditions are diverse, engaging, and satisfactory to many locals.

What do you think of Christmas in Kenya? Let us know in the comments section.

Share comments and reactions:


You may also like

Leave a reply

More in:TRAVEL