Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas in Tanzania

I have loved reading other people's blogs and Facebook status' about snow, freezing cold, going out to look at Christmas lights, peppermint lattes, fireplaces, and warm jammies that all occur this time of year.

It's pretty different for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere. [It may not have occured to some of you that the seasons are reversed down here. Thus, Christmas=summer.]

So we don't have any of those things I listed above. But that's okay. We still have fun. Examples:

1. Christmas tree: We have one. Up until this year, we only had a little tabletop tree. But earlier this year we bought a large tree from a family who was leaving. We hadn't taken it out until last week--and it's huge! About 8 feet tall. Definitely very, very fake. But once we put all the lights and ornaments and such on it, we think it looks pretty darn festive! Grace is absolutely enthralled by it.

2. Christmas decorations: Don't really exist in the city. Some of the stores have put up Christmas trees. Nobody puts up house lights. All of the decorations available to buy are definitely in the 'tacky' category. Stockings are stuck to the wall. Candles are only for power outages. Impossible to keep them lit with so many fans going. But there is a particular kind of tree which bursts into red flowers during this time of year....all over the city...and in my backyard. Love it, love it!

3. Weather: See previous posts. I do have a 'Let It Snow' decoration on my door. There's always hope....

4. Christmas activities: HOPAC Elementary Christmas production. HOPAC Secondary Christmas Carol Sing. HOPAC Christmas Fair. HOPAC Staff Party. Youth Group Christmas Party. There is always a Christmas Eve sunset service at the Yacht Club [yes, there are people rich enough here to own yachts] put on by the International Churches [we used to go to this, but the traffic coming home has gotten so bad that we probably won't go this year.] The local 'Little Theatre' also puts on a 'Pantomine' every Christmas. [For those of you Americans, Christmas Pantomimes are a British tradition. They do not involve silent people with white faces. They are always a spin on a fairy tale and always involve audience participation. Loads of fun.]

5. Christmas day: No extended family. Sigh. That's the hardest part. But we make do. This year we are hosting 17 people here at our house! I am excited. This weekend I will be looking up all sorts of new appetizer and dessert and side dish recipes. We won't have a turkey; they are too expensive. So I will make roast beef.

6. Holidays: December 25th and 26th [Boxing Day, also in the British tradition] are national holidays. But unlike the States, only Christians celebrate Christmas. Non-Christians often go to the beach. Many Tanzanians go home to their family's village around this time of year. They usually celebrate with a big feast.

7. Christmas vacation: In years past, we have gone to a lodge in the mountains, about 7 hours away. It is so much cooler there. But we decided that it's really not very toddler friendly, so we will be sticking around here. We'll go to the pool, the water park, the beach...etc.

Pictures to come soon!
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