Friday, December 19, 2014

Celebrating Christmas in Angola

Angolans only began celebrating Christmas after the arrival of Christian Missionaries in the 15th century. Presently, after more than 500 years of Christianity and colonization followed by over 30 years of independence, the celebration of Christmas has undergone various influences – from traditional African culture, popular Catholic traditions from the previous Portuguese colonization and from other Christian sects as well as secularism.

Christmas for most of the people in the countryside is the most-awaited feast; the preparation is done both materially and spiritually. It’s always preceded by spiritual exercises and pilgrimages to the their local churches for the 'ceia'; church service. Materially, families usually save some money during the whole year to buy special foods for this feast – rice, pasta and other industrialized foods. In agricultural communities, some animals are reared to be slaughtered at Christmas – such as cows, goats, and chickens.

In the cities, Christmas preparations are more organized and better structured. Spiritually it is notable in the participation of the faithful in retreats and preparation for the baptism of children. More zealous Christians go to church services at midnight on December 24th and on Christmas Day.  Those who miss the chance to go to church, either because of work or perhaps over-indulgence in festivities, end up viewing the live telecast church services on the National Television Channel.

Since Christmas is also an occasion for a family feast, it is common to find homes filled with parents and grandparents, children and grand-children.  Like in the countryside, unexpected guests are most welcome. There is room for everybody; this comes from the deep-rooted African tradition of hospitality.

At the ceia church service at midnight on December 24th, urban Angolan families eat cozido de bacalhau, or cooked cold fish, with many vegetables. They also eat turkey with rice and drink table wine and other drinks. After the ceia they exchange gifts and eat handmade cakes and dried fruits, including grapes with which everybody makes wishes. 

Specifically, at Christmas urban Angolans celebrate the end of the year and the coming New Year with an Angolan Christmas tradition of the eating of ‘bolo-rei’(translated ‘king-cake’);  a sweet, Portuguese cake. (from La Salette website)

1 comment:

Jade Graham said...

This was similar to mulled wine and was made of the ‘Richest and raciest wines, highly spiced and sweetened, with roasting apples bobbing on the surface’

what do I want for Christmas