Imagine: It's Thanksgiving day, but you have double the amount of food, double the celebrations and, double the excitement. That is how big a deal Christmas is in Nigeria. Christmas is my favorite holiday, and it's been almost two years since I've been home to experience the excitement that surrounds it. Besides the usual traditions of decorating the house and Christmas tree, sharing of gifts and many more, there are some specific traditions which are indigenous to Nigeria which I miss and love. Now, Christmas here in America is also exciting, I get to hang out with relatives, exchange gifts with loved ones and maybe sing a carol song or two, but all this doesn't compare to Christmas in Nigeria.
Here in America, you buy gifts for your loved ones and they also buy for you and you exchange gifts on Christmas day. However, in Nigeria, your parents buy gifts for you. Most of these gifts include clothes and shoes, which you usually wore on Christmas to show off to your friends. This was usually the most interesting part of Christmas to look forward to as a little kid, but when you become older you begin to lose interest in the clothes and shoes and actually prefer to be given monetary gifts.
In Nigeria, relatives gifted money when you outgrew the clothes. In America, the gifts still remain gifts.
Fireworks are displayed after Christmas celebrations and they're displayed at the end of the day. I mean, what is a celebration without fireworks?! The only downside is that you might lose some sleep because the show can go on all night.
Like Thanksgiving, it is also a tradition for families to cook for Christmas. Now, Nigerian families take this really seriously and tend to cook as much as 5 different types of dishes. This is pretty cool because neighbors sometimes share their indigenous food with you and you get to taste different delicacies.
It's also cool to get to see what we call "I-just-got-backs" or "IJGBs" as we call them. These are the people that study abroad that are home for the holidays. I love being able to reunite with everyone coming back to Nigeria for Christmas.
In Nigeria, Christianity is the most practiced religion, so most families tend to go to church on Christmas mornings for Christmas service. For some reason, Christmas carols get me excited and having it sung by a beautiful choir increases this excitement to another level.
Is Christmas complete without a party? Almost every household hosts parties and during these parties, you dance your troubles away, drink, eat and just chill and catch up with friends or that long-lost relative you haven't seen in years.
Concerts are also really big in Nigeria. Most music artists leave their concerts to be celebrated at Christmas because its the time when everyone's free and financially ready to see their favorites. Concerts are so important that sometimes two artists could hold one on the same day and they would still have a large turnout of fans.
Christmas is a pretty big deal in Nigeria. Everyone is more carefree and caring back home.