Christmas in Madagascar

Madagascar is an Island off the east coast of Africa, so it is very warm at Christmas time! Even though it's hot, common decorations include holly, robins and snow even though none of them exist in Madagascar!

The official language of Madagascar is Malagasy. 'Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year' in Malagasy is 'Mirary Krismasy sambatra sy Taona vaovao tonga lafatra ho anao'. Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.

Most Malagasy's only exchange small presents. In Madagascar, Santa Claus is called 'Dadabe Noely'.

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Most people go to Church on Christmas Eve in Madagascar. The services start about 5.00pm and last until after midnight! Different groups in the Church, especially children, perform songs and plays celebrating the birth of Jesus. People also go to Church on Christmas Day as well. After the Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service, churches give out sweets or biscuits to the people in the Church.

Here are some Malagasy Christmas Carols!

Sambasamba Zanahary (Which means 'It's a big opportunity Lord that you send your only Son to save us from our sin')

Sambasamba, Zanahary
Tamin'ny nampidinanao
Ny Zanakao malalanao
Mba hisolo ny helokay
Tamin'ny nampidinanao
Ny Zanakao, malalanao, malalanao
Mba hisolo ny helokay

Avia Ry Mino (is the Malagsy translation of 'Oh Come all ye Faithful'. You can try singing Avia Ry Mino on this page.)

Avia ry mino! Hifaly sy hihoby,
Avia, avia hankany Betlehema;
Teraka Jeso tompon'ny anjely
Avia hitsaoka Azy (x3) izay Tomponao

Tompon'ny Tompo, Andriananahary.
Nefa mba zana-behivavy koa
Zanak'I Maria, nefa Zanahary;
Avia hitsaoka Azy (x3) izay Tomponao

Derao ry anjely, mohobia mafy,
Ry mponina an-danitra ao ambony ao
Dera sy laza atolory Azy
Avia hitsaoka Azy (x3) izayTomponao

He arahaba, tonga aty an-tany
Ny Tompo Mpamonjy sy Mpanjaka koa,
Tenin'ny Rainy voatafy nofo,
Avia hitsaoka Azy (x3) izay Tomponao!

This poem is very popular with all Malagasy Children:

Krismasy re no tonga (Christmas is coming)
Falifaly ny kilonga (Children are happy)
Krismasy tena fety (Chrismas is really a feast)
Ho an'ny kely sy vaventy (For littles and for adults)

On Christmas Day people (even strangers) greet each by saying 'Arahaba tratry ny Noely' which means 'Merry Christmas'.

Malagasy families like to eat Christmas dinner together in large groups and dress up in the best (or new) clothes. The meal is normally Chicken or Pork with rice followed by a special cake. Some rich people go to restaurants for Christmas dinner, but most people stay at home with their families. Here are some recipes from Madagascar.

A special Christmas food in Madagascar are fresh lychees, which are bought from shops and street sellers, fresh from the trees. The streets get covered in lychee skins!

Poinsettias also grow as large outdoor shrubs in Madagascar and don't just flower at Christmas! They are also a national emblem of Madagascar.