Published: 00:00 GMT Standard Time - Sunday 20 December 2009
Christmas in Nigeria
|“You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21|
Although Nigeria is a Christian-majority country, Christians in the north are a small and beleaguered minority. Since 1999 twelve states in this Muslim-majority region have introduced full sharia law, which affects Christians in many ways, such as the separation of the sexes in education, health care and public transport. Furthermore, hundreds of Christians have been killed and dozens of churches burned in the last year by militant Islamist groups that oppose the very presence of Christianity in the north and aspire to Islamise the whole nation, even the mainly Christian south. Anti-Christian riots often occur also in the Middle Belt, where Christians and Muslims are roughly equal in number.
Yet Christians in Nigeria throw themselves into celebrating Christmas, beginning celebrations after harvest. The Christmas season is occupied with making dresses, visiting relatives and travelling. Activities include choirs singing carols, church groups reciting Christmas passages, dramatisation and acting out of Christmas stories, as well as parties and processions. December 25 is a day of great festivity, and people go to church in their best clothes to mark the Birthday of Jesus Christ. Christmas food customs vary from region to region in Nigeria. In the far north, a favourite dish is thick porridge eaten with a spicy, vegetable-based sauce, known as tuwo da miya. In the Middle Belt, rice, pounded yams, special beans and assorted meats are popular. In the south, pounded yams, fufu (thick paste or porridge), gari (pickled vegetables), amala (thick brown paste or porridge made from yam skin), moimoi (steamed bean pudding made from a mixture of blackeyed beans, onions and fresh black pepper) and assorted soups and meats are the delicacies at Christmas time.
Barnabas Aid projects include:
At this time of year, many Nigerian Christians seek God’s special blessing in terms of health, protection and security.
- Please pray for those Christians in Nigeria who are holding out for Christ and His Church, for spiritual stamina, and, that they will be able to be a positive infl uence upon the nation.
- Pray too for the Christians left bereaved or homeless following recent violence in Nigeria, passing their first Christmas without their loved ones; pray that they will find comfort and strength in the Lord Jesus at this time.