Winter Holidays and Traditions in Africa

by robin elaine

Like everywhere in the world, winter time is celebration time in Africa, especially around the winter solstice (22nd of December). You have to know that Africa is an extremely diverse continent so different people will have different traditions and celebrations in winter. While Christmas is celebrated in most of the African countries, one has to acknowledge that a considerable part of Africans are of Muslim faith. Not to mention the numerous tribes and their interesting ceremonies dedicated to the winter season. The following are among the most popular and widely celebrated winter holidays and traditions in Africa:

Christmas in Africa

Christmas in Africa is celebrated in a manner similar to the western countries: Christmas means carols, presents, family gatherings and joy. The big difference about the African Christmas is that unlike in USA or Europe where the earth is covered in ice and snow, December is the first month of summer in the Southern part of Africa, so people try to enjoy the warm weather as well. It is customary for families to attend the mass and sing specific hymns on the Christmas day, and in some places they might even decorate a small palm and use it as a Christmas tree.

Eid Al Adha

Eid Al Adha is an important holiday in the Islamic world, when people remember the importance of faith in their lives. The origin of this holiday is the Biblical story of Isaac and Abraham, in which Abraham was asked by God/Allah to sacrifice his only son as a sign of faith. As we all know very well, the story had a happy ending, as God allowed Abraham to sacrifice a lamb instead. So today people of Muslim faith sacrifice a lamb in remembrance of this day and share its meat with families or the less fortunate.


by le_jojolafrite

Another popular holiday in the Muslim word is Amazigh New Year.  The Amazigh people of Mahbgreb, or the berbers, follow, unlike other parts of Africa, the so-called Julian Calendar. Thus, the New Year’s Eve is celebrated on the 12th of January – when people invite their friends in for a festive dinner with aromatic chicken and couscous.

Epiphany Day

The Epiphany Day is another important holiday for the Christian world. This is the day when the divine origin of baby Jesus was revealed, and therefore a great reason for joy and celebration. There are numerous festivals in Africa celebrating this evens, the most popular being the Timket Festival in Ethiopia.


by carrormadman6

A small but colourful celebration takes place on the archipelago of Mauritius. Mauritius has a numerous Hindu community and they dedicate the last days in January to a series of religious ceremonies and blessings. An interesting practice associated with this event is that of piercing.

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