Christmas in Mali
Mali is a mainly Muslim country, but Christmas is also an official public holiday. In Mali, most Christmas celebrations take place in Churches, where people remember the real meaning of Christmas, that Jesus came into the world as a baby.
The festivities begin on Christmas Eve with an all night service which includes worship, preaching and items performed by different groups including children and young people. The children memorize Bible verses to recite on Christmas day at Church, as do the women. At the Christmas Eve service, each language group gets up and sings a song in their language.
There is often a baptismal service on the day after Christmas (Boxing Day), although this is sometimes held in the week before Christmas. Baptismal Services are special services where Christians make a public statement that they follow Jesus. This is normally done by being totally immersed (dunked) in water.
Some people can spend over 30 hours in Church over the Christmas period!
After Christmas the women's group of the Church often goes around to different courtyards (of houses) to greet people, sing and dance. The Church choir also does the same. If they come to your yard it is customary to give a small gift of money to the group. This is after Christmas Carol Singing!
Not many people give and receive presents at Christmas in Mali. It is only normally done by rich families.