The smell of freshly baked cookies, a festively decorated Christmas tree, and a crispy Christmas goose. These typical Christmas traditions in Germany might be rather unusual for people from other countries. But how do people celebrate Christmas in Mozambique?
From Portugal to Africa
Surely you are wondering what Portugal has to do with Mozambican Christmas traditions, right? The answer is quite simple: Mozambique is a former colony of Portugal, and it was the Portuguese who brought the celebration to Africa. For this reason, Mozambican Christmas is very similar to the one in Portugal. Nevertheless, Mozambique has created its own Christmas traditions.
These two words are heard more and more often in Mozambique from mid-November. Because: “Boas Festas” is the greeting of the festive season. With this, Mozambicans wish each other happy holidays and remind each other of the upcoming festive season.
Christmas in Mozambique
For many Mozambicans, Christmas has not only a religious meaning, but also a social one. Through Christmas, family and friends come together to spend time together, eat together and celebrate.
Unlike in Germany, where people look forward to a white Christmas, people in Mozambique celebrate Christmas in high summer. Since Mozambique belongs to the tropical climate zones, the temperatures in the coastal regions are around 25 – 35 °C all year round. In the interior, temperatures can be even slightly higher. Due to global warming, the climate in Mozambique is unpredictable.
Christmas Holiday Schedule
In contrast to Germany, the actual holiday in Mozambique is on December 25. In the Mozambican holiday calendar it is also called “Family Day”.
Most Christians spend the night from December 24 to 25 in church. There they celebrate the holy mass, the “Misa da noite do Natal”, where they pray together, sing and celebrate the birth of Christ.
December 25 is celebrated in Mozambique with family and friends. Many Mozambicans spend the day either at the beach or at home in the garden or yard. Unlike December 24, on this special day the table is richly set. Each family brings homemade specialties that are festively arranged on a buffet.
On Christmas, many Mozambicans wear red dresses or robes.
Traditional Gifts in Mozambique
In Mozambique, Christmas presents are less prominent than in the Western world. Usually, children receive gifts to reward them for their hard work at school. They get new clothes, shoes, school supplies, or can go to the hairdresser. However, the children are not only happy about the gifts, but they are also happy because the school year ends at the same time.
The Western Influence
Due to the proximity to Portugal and Brazil, the habit of gift-giving has become more and more established in Mozambique. During Advent, gifts are exchanged among friends, colleagues, and family members. In Germany, this tradition is known as “Wichteln” – or as they say in Mozambique: “Amigo oculto”.
Setting up Christmas trees is also becoming increasingly popular. In Mozambique, however, mainly artificial trees are bought. Traditionally, the houses are not decorated with fairy lights as we know it, for example, in Germany. Rather, the stores in the city centre are illuminated or the houses of those who can afford it. The Advent calendar is also not widespread in Mozambique, not yet at least, since the western influence is spreading more and more in the African country.
The Christmas Dinner in Mozambique
Traditionally in Mozambique, as in Portugal, boiled cod is eaten on Christmas Eve with boiled potatoes, vegetables, and eggs. The cod is imported from Portugal for this purpose. For dessert, there is a simple homemade cake (pão de lò) and cashews roasted on charcoal.
Christmas Around the World
Whether in Mozambique, Germany or other parts of the world, Christmas is the festival of love when the whole family comes together and celebrates.