Christmas in Nigeria is a family event, a time when lots of family members come together to celebrate and have fun. Most families, that live in cities, travel to the villages where their parents, grandparents and extended family reside.
Many different languages are spoken in Nigeria. In Hausa Happy/Merry Christmas is barka dà Kirsìmatì; in Yoruba it’s E ku odun, e ku iye’dun; in Fulani it’s Jabbama be salla Kirismati; in Igbo (Ibo) E keresimesi Oma; in Ibibio Idara ukapade isua and in Edo it’s Iselogbe.
Many parts of Nigeria like that of the southwest and southeast regions have a predominant Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant population, so there is a large sector of the population that celebrates this religious holiday.
Christmas day is a public holiday and many Nigerian citizens will attend church on this day, or may participate in a night vigil on Christmas Eve that will lead into Christmas day with their family and church community, if they are not otherwise with family and friends at home.
Many will throw Christmas parties and homes and streets are often decorated. Most homes will have an artificial Christmas tree, as Nigeria’s tropical location does not allow for the natural growth of the pine tree that has become synonymous with the Christmas holiday.
Christmas cards are sent to friends and family members. Presents are exchanged among family members and some families may take their children dressed in new outfits to see Santa Claus.
In addition to serving turkey, a traditional Christmas meal in Nigeria may include beef, goat, sheep, ram or chicken. Other dishes might include pounded yam, jollof rice, fried rice, vegetable salad and some type of stew.