“Jingle bells, Jingle bells, jingle all the way; oh! What fun it is to ride on a one horse open sleigh …” It’s that time of the year again when old enemies become friendly neighbors. December is the month pregnant with the Christmas spirit. That month that January to November has been preparing to welcome. It is the last month of the year yet the most exciting one. It is the month one must conquer before seeing the promising New Year.
Christmas is a Day, a time and season of the year which comes once every year on the 25th of December. The Christmas experience is so awesome. This time of the year is usually loved by many people. The atmosphere of this season is filled with love, giving of gifts and enjoyment. People usually have lots of fun during this period. Many families in Cameroon have their family meetings and get together during this period of Christmas.
For the Christians, it is believed that it is the time when their Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ was born.Lots of preparations usually take place during this season. Since it is closely followed by the end of the year, people always want to end the year very well.
On this day lots of cooking is done and lots of food is made. Good dishes both traditional and international are prepared. Parents and children clean their houses in preparation for the “D” day, Christmas day.
Families get to spend lots of time together. I remember my parents usually take me and my siblings to my grandma’s place for the Christmas holidays. Grand Ma’s house was the ideal Christmas destination for us. She usually welcomed use with good homemade meals, our favorite. My favorite dish was and is still is our local dish, “Fufu and Eru”. She would tell us lovely stories and pamper us until my parents will get angry at her for pampering us too much.
This time of the year is marked with several events. Events like Christmas shopping, exchange of gifts, Christmas Eve party, church celebration, visitinglove ones and much more and the Christmas day celebration itself as discussed below.
Yes! Christmas shopping is the bomb. Not bomb like a grenade or an explosive but an explosion of beautiful dresses everywhere. On this special day everyone tries to look their best especially kids. Their parents usually provide them with nice and expensive clothes, shoes, bags and toys. Shops, markets and malls are filled with people selling and buying stuffs for Christmas. Food stuffs are also bought from the market as well.
Some say Christmas is the season for sharing. I believe the actions of many during this festive period called Christmas confirms the validity of such a statement. Many share gifts with love ones. Some see it as an opportunity to visit the orphanages with food stuffs and other gifts. Some parents even go as far as pretending to be Santa Clause and leave gifts for their young ones under the Christmas tree. My mom usually share food stuffs with our neighbors and friends.
A night that is almost given as much thought as the Christmas day is the night before Christmas day, Christmas Eve. So much happen on Christmas Eve. Everyone is busy with a thing or two that evening as the wait the next morning. Some go to church for service, others hangout to drink and chart in snack bars, some spend time at home cooking food for the next day, children in most parts of southwest region in Cameroon can be found playing under the moon light, lovers meet out to chart and enjoy the fresh evening breeze, many people spend hours on phone calls sharing seasonal greetings, business people trying to earn some extra income, some communities organize small local festivals and so on.
Also, another event what looking closely into is the church’s role in Christmas. Christians know this period is for them as Jesus Christ, a biblical character known also as God’s own very son was born into the world by his earthly mother, Mary, at this time. Mary a virgin is believed to have been pregnant by the Holy Spirit to bore the saviour of the world and David who was by then betrothed to Marry received visitation from angels cautioning him not to abandon Mary as the child in her womb was God’s own child. To signify his birth, the 25th of December is a highly celebrated day for the Christian community as a whole. The is the Christmas Eve church service which is characterized with the fasting season before Christmas (lent period as some church denominations put it), singing of Christmas songs and dramas depicting the birth story of Jesus Christ, the Christmas day Church service and wishes of Merry and happy Christmas on the lips of every Christian. Not just Christians alone celebrate this day but non Christians as well as many others.
What I love more than anything during this season is to visit love ones. I am usually much occupied with school and work so much so that I find very little time to visit my love ones like my mom, uncles, brothers and friends. I often have spare time a few weeks to Christmas which I spend visiting my love ones to share exciting stories and gifts with. I also enjoy spending much time with my husband and daughter too.
Christmas day is amazing. Different people all over the world have different experiences and ways which they celebrate this day. For me, it’s magical. Fresh sweet memories of my previous Christmas keep flittering through my mind like a home movie. Usually on this day, my family and I would get up with smiles and wishing each other and neighbors a Merry Christmas. Next we will share gifts kept under the Christmas tree put there the previously night. We will cook the rest of the dishes and clean up the house and tidy it very well. After we will all bath, put on some nice dresses and go to Church. From church we will come home for a family meal after which we start receiving guests. Some Christmas we will be the ones visiting others and at mid day we hang out at a local restaurant for an early supper. Throughout the day I will make and receive several calls from friends and relatives. At night, we would pray and thank God for the day and latter that same night I’ll present my “hubby” with my own special gift in the room. Hmm! It’s like a dream I never want to wake up from.
It is also what mentioning that it is not all goody-goody this time of the year. A lot of evil and crime is been perpetrated at this time. Crime usually is at its peak and for most African countries cultic practices it’s at its’ highest. Many refuse to travel for fear of accidents as the roads are over saturated with vehicles moving people and goods from one place to another. Even the airlines are jam parked.
As mentioned above there is a lot of crime this period amongst which one is stealing. “People to dey thief plenty” is a pidgin adage which means there is a lot of theft going on during the Christmas period. There have been several reports of home breakings and missing cars and properties during this time of the year. Thieves break into people’s houses or steal in taxis, shops, restaurant, and market places. Some cases are armed robberies whereas others use diabolic means such as the use of “Charms” to scam people of their money in market places.
Another crime is that of kidnap. Kidnappings are common in most localities inside Cameroon during Christmas. The target which is usually rich and wealthy families, are often demanded huge sums of money as the price to free their love ones. Movement at late hours of the night is avoided as it is a good time for business for the kidnappers.
Also, a lot of accidents occur on the roads due to reckless driving. Roads in my country Cameroon aren’t wide enough but yet the volume of road users keeps increasing. Not only is the road not wide enough, we equally suffer bad roads filled with pot holes in it. To add salt to injury, a lot of travelling takes place during this season. The lack of good street lights on many parts of the highway roads and many others make the roads a hot spot for road accidents. Travel agencies in a bit to make more money and fast, engage themselves in high speed driving to enable them quickly reach destinations at the risk of their passengers. As if that’s not enough, there are many clandestine drivers who don’t own a driving license.
In addition, several relationships say their good bye at this time of the year. Sadly many relationships break up at this time. This is common amongst the youths in my country. Some ladies demand too much from their partners like expensive dresses, hair styles, shoes, bags, jewelries, perfumes and the like. When these things aren’t provided by the other party, they get angry and leave the relationships. Others who are into double dating easily get caught this period as every boyfriend or girlfriend demands their attention and they can’t be everywhere at the same time. That too leads to break ups.
Still on the youths, many youths engage themselves into witchcraft practices and occultic activities all in a bit to make fast money. Some of this usually involves the use of human sacrifice and as such a lot of abnormal killings take place in towns. Bodies of their victims are sometimes found lying dead without a human part or two. Illegal selling of human parts is common too.
“Bush fallers” a primitive name used to describe our brothers and sisters who had travelled out of the country and now coming back for visits. Many come during the month of December from abroad to enjoy themselves and spend quality time with friends and families. Some take the enjoyment to another level by having sex with girls they just met on the streets or even prostitutes at times. Some of the good girls end up contracting sexually infected diseases like AIDS and others. Some girls a lured into sex with the promise of marriage but later on found out it were just lies to get into their pants. Others went into hotels but never made it out alive and their bodies were later on found on the streets. Some get unwanted pregnancy because of the desire of wanting to get married to someone from abroad.
Nonetheless, Christmas is a beautiful thing and lots of good tidings characterize the Christmas period. The Christmas fever is exuberating. During this time of the year, people usually have a long list of things do and to buy especially ladies. And if you get the opportunity to check on some of this lists, it’s usually long and often filled with things they can’t afford but rather hope for money from others to enable them get their listed items.
Equally, many Cameroonian youths expect to receive money from relatives abroad to take care of themselves, catch fun and have some sense of belonging and self esteem amongst their peers.
Several things can be found on people’s list. On one hand, things usually found on ladies list includes, Dresses, shoes, jewelries, expensive wigs (usually “human hair”), money for fun and so on. The men on the other hand do not care so much about their looks as compared to the ladies. Rather, they are more concern about their bellies and money to spend around with friends and having a good time; charting and drinking.
Families also use this as an opportunity to spend time together especially for those working 24/7 like my husband and those abroad. Parents get to spend quality time with family, friends and love ones. There’s also so much to eat, each house you visit is have and extensive menu comprised of several delicious delicacies and snacks especially in Cameroon. Some Cameroonian delicacies include; rice and chicken or beef stew, Eru, Achu soup, Ndole and plantains, Egussi pudding, Pepper soup, Ekwang, just to name a few.
As the song goes “…Christmas is the time for reconciliation, Christmas is the time for forgiveness…” The Christmas spirit is truly about reconciling with one another and that of forgiveness. During this season, everyone is encouraged to reconcile with one another, settle disputes amongst families and friends, call people you haven’t spoken to for months. Share love with everyone around you. Show love this season by sharing gifts as it’s customary in many societies all over the world.
My best Christmas song goes does – “We wish you a Merry Christmas; We wish you a Merry Christmas; We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year…” Merry Christmas!