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Yuletide: How The Igbos Celebrate Christmas

For every tribe in the country, Christmas brings to mind a season of joy, happiness, and peace, the Igbos are not left out as they celebrate Christmas in a huge way.

The celebrations kick off at about two weeks before Christmas people leave their jobs and businesses and travel down to their respective villages and for those who live in the village; they prepare the house for the receiving of their relatives.

The locals in the village always wait expectantly for gifts from people who travel down from the towns, the gifts could be as flamboyant as expensive wrappers, cash gifts or it could be as little as a loaf of bread. The Igbo people are humble and content and so whatever you give them, they appreciate and bless you from the bottom of their hearts

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Upon the arrival of people from far and wide, the celebrations start in full force. It starts off with various visitations. People visit the returnees and they also take out time to visit friends and relatives. The arrival of people is usually always noticed as the shouts of kids running to meet their grandparents is always heard and you would never miss the boisterous laughter of men as they meet and catch up on old times. Christmas time always exudes a feeling of warmth in everyone.

A popular phrase among the indigenes during Christmas is “gbaram Christmas”, it is used by a wide age grade ranging from kids to the elderly. The term is used to ask people to gift you a present or presents to help them celebrate Christmas. The kids go all out in this area and come back home with gifts ranging from sweets, biscuits to cash.

Christmas is never complete without a brand new apparel of clothing. Some families decide to do it the traditional way by sewing outfits for the family using the same fabric while some other families would simply decide to go shopping for new wears for their kids and relatives as well.

The eve of Christmas is very significant particularly the night before Christmas as beautiful displays of fireworks can be seen and the sound of knockouts is usually heard. Also, as you pass by each home, you can almost always smell something delicious brewing in the pot.

The Christmas period is also marked by a number of dance festivals and masquerade  festivals that feature different masquerades as they dance out their heart’s content, it really is a sight to see.

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On the Christmas day, animals are slaughtered ranging from chickens to cows, turkeys and so on. This could also be done on the eve of Christmas. In a traditional Igbo home, as the men gather in the center of the compound and hold conversations and discussions, the women cook their hearts out at the backyard while the kids play around.


Families celebrate in different ways, some households go to church while some hold meetings on the early morning of the day led by the head of the house who prays to the gods and thanks them for keeping their lives. The rest of the Christmas day is spent with eating, drinking and simply just having fun with loved ones. Parents and grandparents teach their kids to know that the celebration isn’t just about stuffing their bellies with food but it is significant of the birth of Jesus, a great and good God.

The remainder of the week that spreads out into the new year sees people reflecting on the year and how it has been for them along with plans for a better year ahead.



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