Christmas in Kenya

In Kenya, Christmas is a time when families try and be with one another. Many people travel from cities, back to the villages where the main part of their family might live. (Although there are more whole big families now living in cities so they don't have to travel!) This is often the only time large families will see each other all year, so it is very important.

People try to be home for Christmas Eve, so they can help with the Christmas preparations. Houses and churches are often decorated with colorful balloons, ribbons, paper decorations, flowers and green leaves. For a Christmas Tree, some people will have a Cyprus tree.

In cities and large towns, stores can have fake snow outside them! And there might be a Santa in the stores as well.

In Kenya, Santa doesn't arrive with his Reindeer but might well come by Land-rover, Camel or even a bike!

Many people, especially Christians, will go to a Midnight Church Service to celebrate Christmas. The service will have Christmas hymns, carols & songs; and often nativity plays (showing the Christmas Story), poems & dances.

After the service, people go home and party really starts - you might well not sleep that night! In cities, going carol singing is also becoming more popular.

Some people will also go to Church on Christmas morning (if you haven't fallen asleep from partying all night!)

Popular Christmas foods include a barbecue which can be a goat, sheep, beef or chicken. This is eaten with rice and chapati flat bread. The big Christmas meal is called 'nyama choma'. People often make their own beer to drink and different tribes also have special dishes they make. If you live in a city you might have a western Christmas Cake, but these aren't very common in rural areas.

Only small gifts are normally exchanged and sometimes food and gifts are provided by missionary organisations.

The day after Christmas, Boxing Day, is also a public holiday in Kenya. It's another day of celebrating, seeing more friends and family (or sleeping!)

In Swahili/Kiswahili (a language spoken in Kenya) Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Heri ya Krismasi' and the response is 'Wewe pia' (you also). In the Maasai language (also called Maa or Kimaasai) it's 'nchipai e Kirismas'. Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.