Christmas in Zimbabwe

by Bill Egan, Christmas Historian

Zimbabwe is situated in the southern part of Africa, between South Africa and Zambia.

Fellowship is a big part of Christmas Day in Zimbabwe. Since the country is located south of the equator, Kisimusi, or Christmas is celebrated December 25, during the broiling hot summer.

Starting weeks in advance, everyone starts to gather loaves of bread, jam, tea, and sugar for the Christmas dinner.

On Christmas Eve, a fir tree is placed in the main room and decorated with colorful ornaments, mostly hand crafted. Gifts are then placed under the tree and a member of the family, one of the elders, is selected to be the “Santa” for the gift distribution on Christmas Day. Fathers give gifts to their children and wives, usually consisting of clothes and candy.

At the early morning church service on December 25th, the children, dressed in their best clothes, sing the songs that they have practiced for this special day.

Sometimes a feast is held for the members of the church. This meal is served at one home. The women take turns preparing the food so that they all have a chance to attend the service. It can consist of fresh roast ox or goat, cornmeal porridge, bread, jam, tea, and sugar. After the dinner, they all sit, relax, and sing gospel songs. The minister may even give an informal sermon to try to win more souls to Christ.

In many homes, members of the family gather from all over and the women prepare a huge afternoon Christmas feast. At noon, all gather around in the living room where prayers are recited and speeches are given. Then, “Santa” distributes the gifts under the tree and reads out messages for each person. When the meal is served, everyone sits at one huge table. Afterward, the children play while the adults relax, listen to music, and sometimes visit a neighbor to wish them joy.

There is a big difference in what people in the villages can afford for gifts and a Christmas dinner compared to the people who live in more populous areas.

As the sun goes down in the villages, herd boys return to their flocks and children play games around the fire. After the sun sinks in the west, Christmas is officially over.

2001-02 by W. C. Egan

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