What Mum and Dad Told Me( The Sixties)
Santa Claus was not a thing in Nigeria. Non the less, everybody looked forward to Christmas. This is because you get to eat something special and also have fun with friends and in the church.
Christmas Eve …
Dad and Mum said during Christmas Eve, every family made moi-moi (steamed bean budding made in a special leaf) . Keep in mind that this was in the 1960s and most families cooked outside the house. Hence the village youths went from house to house to get their own share of moi-moi.
It was also a sport for some youths to steal moi-moi from the pot as it is being cooked. So mother’s stayed guard with their moi moi to ensure that nothing was stolen.
The special Christmas day meal
On Christmas day. Most families ate rice. This is because rice was a rare commodity in those days for most families. Hence it was a special meal to be eaten on Christmas day.
Christmas cloth and shoe…
On Christmas day, you also get to wear new clothes and shoes to church. For kids, this is amazing.
The Joy of Giving and receiving…
One of the best part of Christmas is sharing meals. Most families actually cook with their biggest pots and cook more food than their immediate family can eat because sumptuous meals would be taken to neighbors, friends and families. It was always a joy to give and a joy to receive.
My Christmas Memories ( from a 1990s baby)
Christmas is my favourite holiday of the year. In fact it was called the big celebration. Families start preparing for Christmas as as early as September. I have memories of my mum travelling to Lagos State to shop for the family. The most important part of the shopping was the Christmas cloth and shoe she bought. I always knew it was time for her to travel when she would call me and measure my legs with a broom stick😆. That was to ensure that she bought the right shoe size for me. She also did this for my siblings.
So as early as September-October, the peeping Game begins.
What is the peeping game?
This begins on that glorious day when mum finally gets back from Lagos state and shows us our Christmas cloths and shoes. Sometimes it’s two clothes with another to be worn on new year’s day. Or she must have bought a fabric material to be sown by the whole family.
Usually the cloth and shoe is stored away in the wardrobe and this when the peeping game begins. The cloth is not to be worn yet but I can’t wait to wear it and show it off to everyone. So I would daily go to check my cloth, and imagine myself in it. I would told my peers about my Christmas cloth and we would often sneak in to show one another our cloths. It was top secret. Our mothers don’t expect us to go around telling each other about our Christmas cloth. And thus our anticipation built.
The Glorious Unveiling…
We could hardly sleep on Christmas Eve because we could not wait to finally wear our Christmas cloths and shoes. Christmas day was the day of the unveiling. And it was a glorious day indeed.
Legend of The Father Christmas…
The first time I heard of Santa Claus was in the movies. What I know is what we call the Father Christmas. I don’t know the history of the father Christmas. But I know he is a guy who is hired to dress up in the Santa claus garment who carries kids on his laps, snaps pictures with them and gives gifts to them. Father Christmas often comes to schools during the end of the year party or at Christmas parties organised at recreational centres.
Personally I don’t remember having any episodes with the father Christmas. But many do.
Christmas decorations in my house consisted of several Christmas lights in the house. And back in the days, families also exchanged Christmas cards. Sometimes this cards would be arranged in a strings and made to decorate the sitting room. Cards on a string stopped being fashionable a long time ago and all we do now is lights and about 6 years back,we got a Christmas tree.
…Of Foods, Drinks and Meat
This is my favorite part of Christmas. We usually cooked with our biggest pots because foods would be distributed to neighbors and some friends might come over. Chickens would be killed. Actually mum rears 🐔 chicken specially for Christmas. We would also buy beef. It was drinks and meat galore. We usually cooked Jollof rice and made pounded yam and Efo riro or Egusi soup.
As the last born, I would follow my sister to distribute the packaged food to the neighbors and it was fun knocking and grinning at friends and father’s who gave me money .
I know of families would package food and drinks to also give to the homeless on such day. It is indeed of sharing love and joy.
In my clime, wrapped boxes under trees is not a thing (although some families do that now). Christmas gift is something that recently started. Till date I have never gotten a gift named “Christmas gift”. However, we often have gifts of food items such as yam, chicken, rice , vegetable oil etc to appreciate friends and families and pastors. That is our family tradition.
That’s all I remember for now. I hope you enjoyed reading. What is your favourite Christmas tradition? And questions are appreciated too.
Compliments of the season and…
Keep Blooming 💞