Christmas Fix Holidays

Nigerians Put Troubles Aside On Christmas

Linus Okechukwu / youthjournalism.org

A busy street inside the market in the city of Nsukka, where trading stores flank the road and traders display their wares.




By Linus Okechukwu
Reporter





LAFIA, Nasarawa, Nigeria – It’s still two days
until Christmas, but the frenzy makes it look like it’s Christmas already.

Christmas is a season millions of Nigerians rave
about all the time. They want it to come; they can’t just wait for it; they
want to feel it, touch it, smell it and drink it.

It’s a time we forget our troubles, throwing
away our worries and fears, snapping out of feeling distraught and instead,
embracing happiness and optimism.

The past year has had high and low moments. In
2013, terrorists killed and maimed scores of Nigerians in northern Nigeria.
 Properties have been destroyed there, too, and our hopes for a country
free from bloodletting, reprisal attacks, incessant political uprisings and
brutality are eroding.

You might ask, would we celebrate Christmas
joyfully even in the face of adversity?

Yes,
yes we would!

We are forgetting everything – our troubles,
sorrow, frustrations, losses and anguish – because Christmas is no time for
tears and regrets for us. No, it can’t be!

Rather than see regrets and tears, what you see
in the faces of millions of Nigerians is joy, appreciation and hope.

I can see smiles tucked away in the corners of
the eyes of many people here. The federal government has declared Wednesday and
Thursday as public holidays so people can enjoy Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Christmas means a lot to us. For some it’s a
period for reconciliation, assimilation and celebration. For others, it’s a
season for traveling, enjoyment, loving, sharing and caring.

For children, they crave new clothes and shoes.
They’ve got to look “new” because it’s Christmas.

Children are thrilled to see Santa Claus, known
here as Father Christmas.  Without Father Christmas, Christmas might lose
the fascination it holds for many children.

Linus Okechukwu / youthjournalism.org

The busy entrance to Ogige Market in the


city of Nsukka a few days before


Christmas.


For teens, it’s time to latch onto a number of
fads: trendy clothes, shoes, partying and trying a slew of new and exciting
things.

For some adult males, it’s binge drinking all
the way. They’ve got to drink away their sorrow, too.

For girls and ladies, it’s a craze for new,
glittering hairstyles – hairstyles that glow in the sun. They, too, have to
look “new” for nobody wants to look “old” when everybody is looking new in
their own style.

Everything looks exquisite when it’s Christmas,
from churches to streets to amusement parks, there is a pristine look
everywhere.

In many churches, gorgeous flowers cover the
altars and balloons hover inside. Tiny twinkling lights glow on rooftops and
designs in varied forms embossed with “Merry Christmas” glitter everywhere.

Many Nigerians are visiting their hometowns to
celebrate Christmas. Though their hometown may be lagging in the trappings of
modernity, the joy that comes from sharing love and happiness with their
extended family cannot be denied.

Nigerians still savor every moment of this
festive period regardless of where it is celebrated.

Iridescent Christmas trees adorn the streets of
big cities like Lagos, Abuja, Calabar, Enugu and Ibadan, telling everybody that
it’s Christmas, and we must celebrate and let laughter permeate virtually
everybody and everything.

Linus Okechukwu / youthjournalism.org

Shoppers entering the market a few days


before Christmas in Nsukka.


Tomorrow, Nigerians will be crowding into
churches for Christmas Eve services. The service, which last through midnight,
helps us grasp the true essence of Christmas and what is required of us as
Christians.

It also encourages goodwill greetings with one
another – chants of “Happy Christmas” fill the air in the evening service.

Earlier in the month, Nigerian television and
radio presented the annual Christmas service from the National Christian Center
in Abuja. This year’s program, “Centenary Christmas Praise,” was special
because it coincided with Nigeria’s centennial.

One local delicacy that will be found in
virtually every home is boiled white rice and stew. The stew can be one of many
varieties: egg, beef or chicken stew, tomato stew, or banga stew, also known as
Ofe Akwu in Southeastern Nigeria. It’s prepared with palm fruit oil extract and
herbs.

That’s also part of what makes Christmas here
special – everybody is cooking almost the same thing.

It’s Christmas, and Christmas for us is a time
to embrace happiness and appreciation as we rise above our everyday problems.

Happy Christmas in advance!


Here are some other stories about Christmas that Youth Journalism International students have written over the years: