Christmas Quick Facts - NG

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2023 Date25 December 2023
2024 Date25 December 2024


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Christmas in Nigeria celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, embodying the spirit of love and unity among people. A quintessential part of this observance is the carol services, often initiated by various churches. The joyous celebration is also marked by preparing and sharing festive meals and giving out gifts to loved ones.

Christmas has been celebrated in Nigeria since the introduction of the Christian faith by British missionaries in the 19th century. Over time, the holiday has blended with Nigeria's rich cultural disposition, adding unique vibrancy and diversity to its celebration. In areas like Calabar, the build-up to Christmas begins as early as the first week of December with the colorful Calabar Carnival, which showcases Nigeria's cultural heritage interspersed with modern entertainment.

The celebration of Christmas in Nigeria cuts across various tribal and linguistic lines. In the spirit of the season, extended families and communities gather to feast on festive dishes which vary by regions, from Jollof Rice in the South to Tuwo Shinkafa in the North. The flamboyant display of fireworks, effervescent music, and traditional dances are common sights and sounds. Christmas, held on the 25th of December worldwide, is a public holiday in Nigeria, granting everyone a chance to indulge fully in the merriment and communal unity that the season brings.

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Christmas facts

  • During the 4th Century A.D., Bishop Nicolas of Smyrna was known to be very generous to the poor, especially to children. He was later given the title of Saint Nicholas and is patron saint of children.
  • Constantine the Great named the holiday and set the date for Jesus' birth as being December 25th. This happened in 325 A.D.
  • The Christmas tree is a custom that is believed to have begun in Germany in the 18th century. Candles and decorations that are lit represented the light of Christ in the world.
  • Despite limited resources, Nigerians decorate their homes, streets, and churches to reflect the joyous spirit of Christmas. Brooms, palm fronds, and balloons are common materials used to adorn public spaces during the season.
  • It is customary for Nigerians to wear new, festive clothes during Christmas. These clothes, called “Christmas clothes,” are typically colorful and made from traditional fabrics.

Top things to do in Nigeria for Christmas

  • Attend a Christmas Eve service at a local church. Many churches offer midnight mass. Alternately, watch the Pope's annual Christmas eve service broadcast live from the Vatican.
  • Many churches hold pageants for children that involve playing the parts of the nativity scene. Go to one of these events or put up a nativity scene in your home.
  • Gift-giving is an integral part of Christmas celebrations in Nigeria. Families and friends exchange presents as a gesture of love and appreciation. It is common for people to shop for gifts or even make handmade ones.
  • Nigerian families often prepare special meals for Christmas. Some popular dishes include jollof rice, fried rice, chicken or turkey, beef, goat meat, and a variety of soups and stews.

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